Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital, who has been accused of sexual crimes by 26 women, was arrested on Thursday night in the Netherlands.
His arrest was coordinated by Dutch and Israeli authorities, after the Israeli Police attaché in the Netherlands identified Avital in the street. He was reportedly surprised by the arrest but "knew they would reach him eventually."
According to sources in Israeli police, the prosecution authorized Avital's arrest three months ago, but although they knew of his whereabouts in Europe the entire time, they decided to wait for him to enter a country from which extradition would be easier.
Three out of the 26 women who have filed complaints with the police allege that Avital raped them. The investigation began in July 2021, following investigative reports by two Israeli TV channels.
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In October, police summoned Avital for questioning, but he never showed up. Over the past year, the modeling agent traveled between several European countries, including Turkey, Portugal, France and the Netherlands.
As part of the agreement between the two countries, Israeli police must detail the allegations against Avital before he can be extradited back to Israel. Since he has yet to be questioned, the extradition process may take several months.
Avital's attorneys, Sasi Gaz and Sharon Nahari, responded to the arrest, saying that their client "refutes all allegations made against him and is convinced he will eventually be exonerated in court. He has been the subject of a show-trial by the media, which has severely tainted information obtained by police in its investigations in the case."
"Our client, who left Israel legally, hopes that law enforcement authorities will conduct their investigation professionally, without being influenced by the media-led lynching-campaign he has been the target of," they added.