Lador, Tel Aviv District Court Face Off in Murder Case Thanks to Continuing Strike

The prosecutors' strike, now in its second month, resulted yesterday in a showdown between the Tel Aviv District Court and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, over a plea bargain on which Lador is required to submit his opinion.

The District Court judges said that since Lador is not striking with the other prosecutors, there is no reason for the delay in submitting his opinion on whether a plea bargain between the state and murder suspect Yihye Turk should be annulled.

The court instructed Lador to present his opinion by December 21. They said they would respond on December 22.

In 2005, Turk was acquitted of conspiring with two others in the April 1999 bombing of a car belonging to Asher Iluz of Rishon Letzion. The bomb killed Iluz's 3-year-old son Aviv and injured Asher Iluz.

Turk was acquitted after the court ruled that he was led to believe he wouldn't be tried if he agreed to serve as a state's witness. He was convicted on other charges, however, including weapons possession, and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

But then, in July 2009, the High Court of Justice overturned the ruling and instructed the District Court to retry Turk's case, at which point the two sides began to negotiate a plea bargain.

As part of that deal, which was approved by former Tel Aviv chief prosecutor Ruth David and signed in October by her successor, Turk pleaded guilty to charges including involvement in attempted murder and in using explosives to inflict damage. He also agreed to a 15-year sentence - three years longer than the term he got the first time around.

Lador decided to reexamine the agreement at the request of the police - who claimed Turk had threatened the lead investigator of his case - and due to opposition to the deal from Asher Iluz, who threatened to take the case to the High Court of Justice.

On October 19, the State Prosecutor's Office wrote to the court that Lador "wishes to reexamine the plea bargain, and therefore requests another continuance of two to three weeks."

Nearly two months have passed since that letter was written, during which time the prosecutors' strike broke out.

In a hearing yesterday, in the absence of prosecutors, Turk's attorney Avi Cohen told the court that things had gone too far. He presented the signed plea bargain and the amended indictment, and asked the judges to allow Turk to admit to the amended charges and convict him on the basis of his confession.

The Public Defender's Office also argued that, 10 weeks after the signing of the plea bargain, it was Turk's right to know the position of the State Prosecutor's Office in his case.

The Public Defender's Office further argued that, although Turk was in jail in any case, the prosecution's delay infringed on his rights and obligations, which differ from those of a convicted prisoner.

Although the judges expressed their displeasure at Lador's delay, they ruled that because they had not yet seen the position of Asher Iluz, considered the main victim of the crime, they could not discuss the case.