A member of a major Israeli crime family has been arrested for the slaying of a mob prince last week in Tel Aviv, a little over a decade after he was at the center of a senseless murder that shocked the Israeli public.
Avi Abutbul, 31, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of being involved in the murder last Saturday of Shay Shirazi, the son of mob boss Rico Shirazi, who for years had feuded with his Netanya- based rivals from the Abutbul clan.
Despite the wider feud between the two organizations, Shay Shirazi and Avi Abutbul were known to be friends, and neither was known to be involved in any recent mob war.
In court on Wednesday, Abutbul denied any connection to the drive-by killing of Shirazi in north Tel Aviv last Saturday night, saying that the detective who interrogated him “questioned me for an hour and a half. And I asked him why aren’t you writing down anything I’m telling you – he asked me questions and would answer for me, he distorted everything I said.”
This is not the first time Abutbul has been at the center of a high-profile murder case. In September 2009 he was sentenced to six years in prison for accessory to murder, following the slaying of teenager Raanan Levy outside a club in Shfayim in December 2004.
Levy, who had no link to the underworld, was at the nightclub with friends when a relative of Abutbul’s called and told him he was involved in a fight with a group of youths at the club and asked him to come help.
Abutbul, the nephew of the late mob boss Charlie Abutbul, arrived in a jeep with his cousin Francois Abutbul, and ran Levy down, stabbing him to death in the the beam of the headlights of the jeep.
Levy was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was not part of the crowd of youngsters involved in the brawl earlier in the night; it later emerged in the investigation.
Francois Abutbul, Charlie’s son, was convicted of murder in 2009, and given a life sentence.
It remains to be seen what motive police believe there was for Abutbul to murder Shirazi, who at the time was not accompanied by a bodyguard and apparently not believing that his life was in danger. Shay, his father’s only son, was expected to be the heir of his father’s organization.