Israel's Top Court Pushing for Plea Deal in Major Case Against Crime Boss

The case provides the links connecting a number of Israel’s most significant crimes in recent years, police claim

Yitzhak Abergil in Tel Aviv District Court in December 2018.
Moti Milrod

Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Amit has recommended that the prosecutor's office attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with 15 organized criminal suspects, including crime family boss Yitzhak Abergil, in a high-profile case arising out a massive police crackdown on organized crime.

The case provides the links connecting a number of Israel’s most significant crimes in recent years, police claim.

Lawyers for eight defendants petitioned the High Court of Justice seeking an order requiring the prosecutor's office to honor a mediation agreement reached in the case that later unraveled. Justice Amit gave the prosecution 14 days to respond to his proposal that the sides attempt to come to agreement on plea bargains in the case, which police have dubbed Case 512. It is thought that Amit suggested a compromise due to the high costs involved in trying the case — about 100,000 shekels ($27,600) for every day of the trial, according to one estimate.

Abergil is charged in the case with three counts of murder of innocent bystanders in a car bombing in 2003 on Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv. Agreement was reached through mediation in April of last year that Abergil would serve 30 years in prison on the charges against him, but the prosecution conditioned the deal on plea agreements with the other defendants. Agreement were only reached with two of them, Meir Abergil — Yitzhak Abergil’s brother — and Moti Hassin.

At a hearing on the case on Thursday, Justice Amit said that the chances of the High Court petition being granted were low. He then removed the public and the Haaretz reporter from the courtroom and conducted negotiations between the parties.

Yitzhak Abergil’s lawyer, Shimshon Weiss, said that the state was “wasting resources when it could lock Abergil up for 30 years. He’ll get out when he’s 80, if at all.” For his part, prosecutor Nissim Merom said that the prosecution’s motivation to reach an agreement with Abergil was “very low to non-existent” because Abergil had already testified.