Israeli Crime Family Member Arrested in Shirazi Murder Case

Police say Avi Abutbul was contacted by suspected gunman after the killing of crime boss' son.

Avi Abutbul is flanked by guards at the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court on May 18, 2016.
Tomer Appelbaum

Avi Abutbul, a known organized crime figure, is the suspect arrested earlier this week in connection with the May 7 murder of Shai Shirazi, the son of crime boss Rico Shirazi. The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday ordered Abutbul held for five more days.

He is suspected of conspiring to commit the murder. Police believe that right after Shirazi’s murder, Michael Levy, who was arrested earlier on suspicion of committing the murder, contacted Abutbul.

Abutbul said he chose not to consult a lawyer because he wants to cooperate with investigators, but that police did not record what he had told them during questioning. He claimed that one of the investigators said, “You wear me out, I’ll write whatever I want.” In response, the judge instructed police to make sure they documented the investigation, adding, “The transcripts must be submitted to the court when requested.”

In 2009 Abutbul was convicted of involvement in the murder of teenager Ra’anan Levy and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. During that year, police found a letter that Abutbul had smuggled out of his cell to Shai Shirazi, in which he asked him to harm rival members of the Abutbul family. “Shai, you love me, set off some bomb near them, it doesn’t matter which of them,” he wrote.