Witness in Organized Crime Trial Killed in Tel Aviv Car Blast

Victim, later identified as Avner Mayo of the Musli family, previously testified in an ongoing trial, targeted in north Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv car explosion, March 13, 2016.
Barak Ravid

A man in his 40s was killed on Sunday when a Hummer exploded in north Tel Aviv at the corner of Dvora Haneviya and Moshe Sneh Streets.

The victim, who has been identified as Avner Mayo, a known associate of the Musli family who had been a witness against the underworld crime family in an ongoing trial.

Prosecutors will review the handling of what is one of the most prominent criminal cases being conducted by Tel Aviv prosecutors in their war on organized crime. The case includes a long list of suspects and one state's witnesses whose identity is barred from publication. Mayo was questioned in 2013 and linked one of the organization's leaders to the murders of two criminals a year earlier.

Mayo had testified that a senior figure in the organization offered huge sums to whoever would do a "red-riding hood," an underworld nickname for murder, on the two criminals who were ultimately killed.

Magen David Adom medic Eran Carmel who arrived at the scene of the explosion, said he found Mayo "lying on the ground. He was conscious with serious wounds to his limbs and burns to his upper body. We administered first aid in the field, applying a tourniquet and pain killers and an intensive care ambulance took him to hospital in serious condition."

Mayo later died of his injuries.

The killing was the latest of a string of murders of witnesses against crime gangs in recent years.

The most recent previous case occurred about a month agao when state's witneses Shai Bachar, 40, was killed in a car bombing in Hod Hasharon, before he could testify in Avi Rohan's trial about suspicions that leaders of that crime group had been plotting to murder criminals of a rival gang.

Before that, in November 2013, the body of criminal Shimi Eno, described by police as a senior figure in the Musli crime family, was found in a lake in South Africa. Eno was not a state's witness or a part of that program, but police are investigating whether his murder may have been an attempt to persuade a person who was close to Eno against testifying as a state's witness against other criminals.

A year beforehand, on July 12, 2012, David Hakak was shot and killed on a Jaffa street corner after testifying against several senior figures of the Rohan crime gang. Hakak, Hakak's testimony had incriminated 15 suspects of an illegal gambling ring.