Supreme Court Demurs on Furlough For Crime Boss Zeev Rosenstein

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed substantial skepticism about the wisdom of granting a vacation from prison to crime boss Ze’ev Rosenstein.

Rosenstein, who is nearing the end of a 12-year sentence handed down in 2006 and 2007 by courts in the US and Israel, recently convinced a lower district court to grant the request over the prosecution’s vehement objection, leading to an appeal to the Supreme Court by the prosecution.

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Justice Zvi Zilbertal and Justice Menachem Mazuz seemed to question whether the lower court was given a full intelligence picture about the dangers of granting Rosenstein a vacation.

In contrast, Rosenstein’s lawyer, Mickey Hova argued that all of the so-called new intelligence was really just repackaged old and outdated information and that the lower court’s granting of a vacation should be respected.

In 2004, Rosenstein was charged with ecstasy trafficking in a joint investigation conducted by the Justice Ministry and the US Justice Department.

In a landmark case two years later, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered Rosenstein extradited to the US for trial. The mob leader was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was allowed to serve his sentence in Israel.

Until 2004, Rosenstein had for decades alluded any criminal charges the police had tried to throw at him.

However, in December 2003, three bystanders were killed in an attempted assassination by his rivals, the Abergil crime family, which caused a public outcry that eventually led to the commitment of far more resources and coordination with the US to get charges that would stick.

In July 2015, the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office filed indictments against criminal kingpins Yitzhak Abergil, his brother, Meir Abergil and 18 other associates for their involvement in the attempted bombing on Rosenstein.

Despite the Supreme Court’s hostile reception on Monday, it has previously granted a vacation request to Rosenstein, allowing him in November 2014 to attend his son’s wedding at a secret location.

A request to attend the wedding at a pre-announced location had been rejected by the Lod District Court, but Justice Esther Hayot convinced the Israel Prisons Service to agree to a compromise in which the site was switched to a secret location with a ceiling of pre-approved attendees and special security coordination.

It is unclear when the Supreme Court will issue its final ruling on the current vacation request.

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