Man Charged in Stabbing Death of Rishon Letzion Soldier

Wodga Minalik, 20, was formally charged with manslaughter yesterday for having stabbed and killed a soldier on leave.

According to the indictment, filed in the Petah Tikva District Court, Or Chen was one of a group of young people hanging out near the Haviv school in Rishon Letzion on the night of September 11.

At about 2 A.M., Minalik joined the group. He and Chen began quarreling - the indictment does not say over what - and Minalik suddenly pulled out a switchblade, stabbed Chen in the stomach and fled. Chen lost a massive amount of blood and died in hospital a few hours later.

A bloody knife, with a blade 10.5 centimeters long, was later found in Minalik's room, and the DNA profile of the blood matched Chen's profile.

The prosecution decided to charge Minalik with manslaughter rather than murder because it could not prove that he intended to kill Chen. In part, this is because he stabbed his victim only once. However, the maximum sentence for manslaughter is 20 years, and prosecutors said they intend to demand a lengthy sentence that will reflect the severity of the crime.

Minalik is also being charged with two counts of illegal weapons possession after improvised knives were found in his possession during his initial remand hearing at the Rehovot Magistrate's Court. One was hidden in his shoe and the other was in his pocket.

The prosecution is seeking to have Minalik remanded until the end of his trial.

In its request, it noted that he has a lengthy criminal record that includes prison terms for extortion, breaking and entering, assault and attempted assault, among other crimes.

He killed Chen less than a month after being released from his most recent jail sentence.