Top Cop Candidate Accused of Leniency Resulting in Botched Bat Yam Mob Hit

Supreme Court turns down appeal of organized crime figures Meir and Yitzhak Abergil; the two are to be extradited to the United States.

The Supreme Court turned down an appeal yesterday by reputed organized crime figures Meir and Yitzhak Abergil of their extradition to face criminal charges in the United States. The brothers and three other individuals stand accused of a range of offenses including murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.

In a related matter, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein received a letter yesterday from a former deputy Israel Police representative in the United States, Simon Perry, accusing Southern District police commander Yohanan Danino of inappropriately preventing the Abergil brothers' arrest and trial in the past.

Meir Abergil (Tomer Appelbaum)
Tomer Appelbaum

Danino is a leading candidate to replace the head of the Israel Police, David Cohen, who is retiring.

The state comptroller and the attorney general are demanding that an additional investigation be conducted into Danino's conduct. The comptroller has been looking into allegations that the Southern District commander was involved in the mishandling of a police case that resulted in the murder in 2006 of two police informants.

Perry, the former deputy police representative in the United States, asked Lindenstrauss and Weinstein yesterday to pursue a complaint he filed with the comptroller against Danino about two years ago. In the complaint, Perry accused Danino of improperly refraining from arresting and putting on trial Yitzhak and Meir Abergil.

Perry claimed that the brothers were responsible for the murder of innocent people, including the 2008 killing of Margarita Lautin on a Bat Yam beach. Lautin was killed by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting. Perry also accused Danino of mismanagement of the case that resulted in the death of the informants in 2006.

Perry said that despite pressure on him to speak to the media, he has refrained from doing so up to now, saying it involved a serious matter that merited a thorough investigation by the state comptroller. He said the facts would ultimately be made public in a suit Lautin's family is filing over her killing.

For its part, the Israel Police called the accusations the complaint of a "frustrated officer" involving "recycled" material that has been thoroughly investigated, according to a spokeswoman. "The timing of the publicity is biased and designed to influence the appointment of the police commissioner," she added.

The comptroller is also investigating a complaint made about three years ago by retired police officer Yisrael Abarbanel, who accused Danino and other senior police officials of mishandling contacts with the two police informants, resulting in their deaths.

Danino was the head of the police investigation and intelligence unit at the time. Abarbanel said Danino's conduct in the case of the informants violated procedure and that Danino also headed off an independent investigation of the matter.