Alleged pimp, human trafficker faces court
Suspect Guy Hassid was arrested in Northern Cyprus for running an international prostitution ring.
GUY HASSID Photo: Ben Hartman
Alleged human trafficker and pimp Guy Hassid appeared in an Israeli courtroom
for the first time Wednesday, around a year and a half after he was arrested by
Turkish authorities for running a prostitution ring that spanned almost a
Hassid was finally extradited to Israel Tuesday
night, after he and his attorneys had pleaded for well over a year to bring him
home to face trial.
The suspect was first arrested in Turkish- controlled
northern Cyprus in May 2011, after Israeli police sent his details to Interpol.
Police say they believe Hassid was the second-in-command of a massive
prostitution ring that had operated in Israel until it moved to northern Cyprus
Hassid’s extradition was reportedly held up by the deterioration
in ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, as Turkish authorities dragged their feet
on carrying out the process.
Hassid first moved to Turkish Cyprus in
2007, when he and organization head Rami Saban began moving their base of
operations there in order to avoid the heat of a police crackdown on pimps and
traffickers in Israel, Ch.-Insp. Eduard Pliner of the Tel Aviv branch of the
YAMAR investigative unit said on Wednesday.
Pliner said police watched
the organization move its base to northern Turkey and launched a two-year
undercover investigation that spanned four different countries in the former
Soviet Union, with officers from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia flying to Israel to
take part in the investigation.
Pliner added that members of his team
also went undercover in countries in the former Soviet Union where the ring had
set up local branches to lure women into working in prostitution against their
In 2009, police arrested eight members of the organization in
Israel, including Saban, who was later sentenced to 18-and-a-half years in
prison. During Saban’s sentencing, the presiding judge referred to him as one of
the biggest pimps in the history of the country.
The current case against
Hassid only applies to the operations in Cyprus, Pliner said, and not the years
before they moved there, when they ran a massive prostitution ring based in
Israel with branches across Europe.
After catching word of the arrests,
Hassid stayed in north Cyprus, where he managed the Maxim Nightclub in the port
town of Kyrenia, which police say was one of the biggest brothels in
Pliner said that every few months Hassid would bring in a new
batch of women, who would work long hours servicing clients at the
Police were able to pursue the case after an amendment to the human
trafficking law was passed in 2006 which allows Israel to prosecute citizens for
trafficking even when committed outside the borders of the
Attorney Ness Ben-Nathan said his client has denied any of the
charges against him and that at no point did he force women into
“These women all knew what they were doing. He [Hassid]
used a company in the Ukraine that placed ads for women who wanted to work as
hostesses in Turkey, and all of them came legally with work visas put in their
passports by the Turkish authorities.”
Ben-Nathan said there was no
prostitution at the club, only striptease shows, but added that “the place
closed at 1 a.m.. If the dancers there met guys and did stuff with them
afterwards its not my client’s responsibility.”
The attorney also
dismissed the contention that his client was trying to flee prosecution by
staying in Turkish Cyprus, saying “he didn’t flee, just when he heard about the
arrests in Israel he decided to stay where he was.”
Hassid’s remand was
extended by five days at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, with
police saying they need time to play some 15 hours of wiretapped conversations