Israel Police Criticized for Not Releasing Identity of Suspect in Double Homicide

Two days after Anastasia Rusanov and Eliezer Kandinov were shot to death in Rishon Letzion, police have yet to release a photograph of the suspect, a former boyfriend of Rusanov's who had threatened her days before the murders.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Anastasia Rusanov, whose body was found at her Rishon Letzion apartment on May 25,2016.
Anastasia Rusanov, whose body was found at her Rishon Letzion apartment on May 25,2016Credit: Facebook page
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel Police continued their manhunt for the lead suspect in Wednesday's double homicide in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion.

Following the shooting deaths at a Rishon Letzion apartment building on Wednesday of a 29-year-old woman, Anastasia Rusanov, and her boyfriend, Eliezer Kandinov, 34, were shot to death at a Rishon Letzion apartment building. Police are searching for a former boyfriend of Rusanov's as a suspect in the case.

Social welfare authorities in the Tel Aviv suburb said the former boyfriend had threatened Rusanov on Sunday when she went to the local police station. They said he had been following her since their breakup five months ago, adding that while Rusanov was at the station, she received a text message the former boyfriend reading: "I know you are at the police. Get out of there." At that point, the police referred Rusanov to a women's shelter, but she chose to return home after a few hours, saying that her current boyfriend would protect her.

Anastasia Rusanov, left, and Eliezer Kandinov, whose bodies were found at Rusanov's Rishon Letzion apartment on May 25, 2016.Credit: Courtesy

Most of the work in tracking down the suspect in the case has involved intelligence gathering, including major use of technology. Police are attempting to question anyone that might have known him and patrols are being carried out around the country where he may be hiding.

There has been criticism within the Israel Police and outside of the agency over the decision by the police to leave the gag order in place barring publication of the suspect's identity rather than releasing a photograph of the suspect in an effort to obtain additional information from members of the public. The case also recalls lessons learned from the case of Benny Sela, the convicted serial rapist who escaped police custody in 2006 and was on the run for about two weeks before being taken into custody again. A gag order was placed on that case as well.

By contrast, on New Year's Day this year, after a terrorist, later identified as Nashat Melhem, shot up a Dizengoff Street bar in Tel Aviv, it was the release of his photo that quickly led to two young women who spotted him on a bus to come forward with information that could have led to his capture. But in the Rishon Letzion murder case, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich is not prepared to allow the release of a photo of the suspect, even though the suspect's name and picture have been posted on the internet.

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