Entertainer Dudu Topaz's Attorneys Claim Media 'Demonized, Lynched' Fallen Star

Lawyers for entertainer Dudu Topaz, who killed himself in jail yesterday, lashed out at the media for delegitimizing their client.

Zion Amir and Bruria Lekner said that "a very organized campaign" had turned Topaz "from human to sub-human. These reports turned him into a many-armed monster, a real demonic monster. It was, in fact, a lynch ... to the extent that he took his own life."

Lekner said she had spoken with Topaz Wednesday night. She said he sounded "tense and upset," but that no one could have predicted that a few hours later he would take his life. Lekner said he apparently could not stand his immense feelings of regret over what happened and that he had guilty feelings about what had happened to attacked media figures Shira Margalit, Avi Nir and Boaz Ben-Zion.

"On the other hand, he was frustrated by the fact that he was being treated as if he was the head of a crime organization," Lekner said.

In an interview with Army Radio, Amir said Topaz had changed his mind after ordering the attacks. Amir described Topaz "driving like crazy to catch up with the go-between between him and the hit man" to tell him not to go through with the attack. Amir said there was evidence to this effect in the case file.

Amir also said the middle man said he could not accede to Topaz's request to call off the hit man because hit men did not set out on such missions with a cell phone.

Amir said that before the attack on Ben-Zion, Topaz "called him from a payphone, covering the receiver with a cloth, and warned him not to leave his house."

Amir also said his client was particularly worried about the prison sentence he would have to serve, and spoke about it frequently with visitors.

A individual who had recently visited Topaz in jail said the entertainer had told him that he was well aware of what kind of media power he was up against, and understood it would be better to cut a deal.

The visitor said Topaz told him that in informal discussions of a plea deal he discovered that the state prosecutor's office was seeking a 15-year sentence at least, and Topaz would have agreed to a term of between five to eight years.

Amir yesterday denied that there had been any discussions of a plea bargain with the state prosecutor's office. However, he said he had planned on meeting with the Tel Aviv district prosecutor, Ruth David, in September, when she returned from vacation.

"If I would have suggested a sentence of five to eight years, the prosecution would have gladly jumped on it," Amir told Haaretz. "I had hoped attorney David would come to her senses and realize that the indictment had to express more minor involvement by Topaz in ordering the attacks, because what was done was not entirely according to his wishes. I thought that Topaz would compensate the victims financially, and go to jail for a year and a half to two years at the most."

When Topaz told Amir he was worried about a heavy prison sentence, Amir told him to trust Tel Aviv District Court Judge Chaled Kabub, who was hearing the case and who might be infuriated by media reports. Amir said he told Topaz not to worry about the headlines.

The Justice Ministry said it does not discuss negotiations with attorneys, which was neither confirmation or denial.