Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Fans to Face Charges of Attempted Murder, Robbery

Beitar fans are accused of attempted murder, grievous injury, robbery and weapons offenses.

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
Beitar Jerusalem fans at the season opening.
Beitar Jerusalem fans at the season opening.Credit: Michal Fattal
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

A few dozen members of a far-right Beitar soccer fan club will be indicted over the next few days for attempted murder, grievous injury, robbery, weapon offenses, violence and other offenses, a police prosecutor told the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Last week police arrested more than 60 members of the fan club, known as La Familia, among them two minors and nine Israel Defense Forces soldiers, one of them a junior officer.

The arrests took place after one member of La Familia agreed to turn state’s witness and act as an undercover agent for police.

Some of the detainees are suspected of attacking a fan of rival team Hapoel Tel Aviv, with an ax in 2015, seriously injuring him. Others are suspected of taking part in several violent incidents, such as attacks of rival team fans over the last few years, and illegal use of weapons.

Most of the suspects have since been released.

Among the suspects included in the prosecutor’s statement yesterday were Asi Basano, Niv Manor and Yoav Nachshon, who had also been arrested in October 2015 on suspicion of attacking the Hapoel Tel Aviv fan with an ax and were later released.

Public Defense Attorney Ran Shaham, who represents Nachshon, told Haaretz his client “claims he had nothing to do with the attack, he denies the suspicions against him in this and other incidents.”

Basano’s detention was extended to Sunday. His attorney, Tami Olman, said he “claims he is innocent, he doesn’t understand why he was incriminated and hopes the court will release him.” Basano is one of the main suspects in the case.

Olman represents several suspects in the case, including the officer who was arrested on suspicion of weapons trading. The officer, she said, has been released and returned to his base.

The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office asked the court to extend the custody of all the suspects due to be indicted by another five days. After one of the suspects appealed to the district court, their detention was shortened and extended only until Friday.

The suspects’ lawyers complained that the police prosecutor had submitted a general statement attributing all the offenses to all the suspects, instead of specifying the offenses attributed to each one.

For example, in one court session about extending the suspects’ custody, the police prosecutor said everyone who was present at the attack of the Hapoel Tel Aviv fan, according to the evidence, is suspected of attempted murder.

Attorney Yoni Dadon, whose underage client’s detention was extended to Sunday, said the prosecutor’s statement was “vague.” “It’s not clear what indictment will be filed against my client. I’m certain all the charges will turn out to be groundless and the case will end in nothing,” he said.

Shaham said “it appears the court forced the prosecution and police to complete the investigation in seven days, after they asked to extend everyone’s detention by 15 days.”

He said dozens of the suspects, most of them youngsters and some of them minors, are “mostly regular people who were forced to spend time in custody unnecessarily.” He estimated very few indictments for serious crimes would be filed and that most of the suspects would be released.

Shaham said it was necessary to check the state witness’ involvement in the offenses. If he played a dominant role in them, perhaps he lured the suspects into committing them, he said. “First we’ll have to see what the evidence is and why they chose to operate this guy and by what methods,” he said.

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