Ex-Haaretz Reporter May Get Immunity Over 1997 Murder-suicide Case

Sammy Sokol may not be forced to reveal who leaked info to him regarding the murder-suicide of a top Israeli model and her boyfriend.

Former Haaretz journalist Sammy Sokol will not be forced to reveal which police officer leaked information to him regarding the 1997 murder-suicide of a top Israeli model and her hairstylist boyfriend, if the police and the two families involved in the case agree to it.

The Jerusalem Family Court gave the police and the families until January 10 to submit their position on the matter.

Although Sokol did not provide the name of his source, he told the court a month ago that one of the police officers who testified that he had not spoken to the press was actually his source when he initially wrote that model and actress Anat Elimelech killed her boyfriend, David Afuta, and then committed suicide. Police later said forensic tests revealed Afuta had been the killer.

Sokol refused a court order to reveal his source.

This latest development is part of a NIS 9.25 million lawsuit filed by the Elimelech family in 2005 against the Afuta family and the police. The suit alleges that the news reports initially accusing Elimelech of the murder cost her estate and family millions in lost earnings, damaged the family's name, and caused them emotional pain and suffering.

The suit also accuses the police of allowing Afuta's brothers, Yosef and Shmuel, to tamper with the crime scene. The brothers allegedly moved the gun into Elimelech's hand to create the appearance that she had murdered Afuta and committed suicide.

The police force denies responsibility for the leak, while the Afuta family has said either Sokol or the police must be lying, and that a police officer who perjured himself should not receive immunity.