State Prosecutor May Call Off Plea Deal in 1999 Bombing That Killed 3-year-old

Yihye Turk accused of conspiring with two others to place a bomb in the child's father's car.

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador is considering invalidating a plea bargain reached with a man accused of killing a 3-year-old boy from Rishon Letzion in 1999, when he conspired with two others to place a bomb in the child's father's car.

The Public Defender's Office has criticized the decision, saying that if Lador does invalidate the plea bargain reached with the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor's Office, it would file a High Court of Justice petition against Lador.

"A plea bargain is a commitment by the state that is made after considering and weighing all the circumstances," said Yona Hayer-Levy of the Public Defender's Office in the Tel Aviv district. "And in terms of the defendant, this is a governmental promise that he relies upon. Retracting such an agreement, without any change in circumstances, is improper conduct."

In 2005, Yihye Turk was acquitted of killing Aviv Iluz and attempting to kill his father, Asher Iluz, who was wounded in the knee and the eye in the April 1999 bombing, because the court ruled he was led to believe he would not be tried if he agreed to serve as a state witness. But he was convicted on other charges, including weapons possession, and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

But the Supreme Court overturned the ruling in July 2009 and ruled that the case should go back to the District Court.

As part of the plea deal, which was signed in October, Turk pleaded guilty to charges including involvement in attempted murder and involvement in using explosives to cause damage. He agreed to a sentence of 15 years - three years longer than the prison term he got the first time around.

Delaying tactics

The prosecution repeatedly pushed off the date of Yihye's appearance before the court to approve the plea deal. It informed the court on October 19 that it was requesting a deferral of two two three weeks so Lador could reexamine it.

It also said Asher Iluz had informed the prosecution that he intended to petition the High Court against the plea deal and asked the prosecution not to bring it to the court for approval.

Lador has since called in Turk's lawyer, Avi Cohen, for a hearing. The Public Defender's Office objected to the timing, saying such hearings are supposed to take place before the indictment is issued, not after a plea deal has been signed.

"The decision will be made on the basis of the best judgment and taking into consideration precedents and rules that exist in Israeli law," the Justice Ministry said in a statement. "One can assume that every serious decision made in a matter-of-fact and professional manner, no matter what its content, is supposed to strengthen, not damage, public confidence in the law-enforcement system."