Bill would redirect criminals' 'tell-all' income to victims

Legislation meant to ensure that victims of crime are properly compensated for damage they suffered.

August 9, 2009 23:28
2 minute read.
Bill would redirect criminals' 'tell-all' income to victims

Haredi arrested 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) has proposed a bill that he believes is crucial to ensure that victims of crime are properly compensated for damages that they suffered as a result of the crime. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Shai dismissed claims that the law specifically targeted former television personality Dudu Topaz; he said, rather, that it filled a long-standing legal gap that allowed criminals to profit from their crimes even years after their arrest. Shai's bill would require that income earned by criminals who exploit their crimes - for instance, money received in exchange for television interviews or book deals detailing their crimes - be distributed to their victims rather than be allowed to make its way into the criminals' pockets. "Under the current situation, unless they engage in a long and expensive civil suit, people who have been harmed physically, financially or psychologically by a crime do not receive any financial compensation," complained Shai. A law dating from 2005, sponsored by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) and former MK Nissim Slomiansky already states that criminals cannot make corollary profits from their crimes. But according to Shai, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, who is responsible for enforcing the law, has never done so; what's more, the law doesn't specify what is to be done with money that would be appropriated. In the meantime, there have been several cases of high-profile criminals who have received money for tell-all deals. For example, Eti Alon, the Commerce Bank employee whose embezzlement led to the bank's collapse, received money in return for a television interview, and Yitzhak Drori, a famed burglar, continues to earn royalties from two books - The Brain and The Brain II. Shai worked on the initiative together with the Noga Center for Victim's Rights, and ultimately drafted two amendments to the current law. One would put the responsibility for such funds into the hands of the custodian-general, and the other would allow victims to have a say in the distribution of the income. Currently, even fines imposed by court on criminals go to the state and not to the victims. "I am not going into the whole question of whether or not people should be allowed to talk or to publish a book," said Shai. "This isn't the 'Topaz Law,' the 'Mofaz Law,' or anything else. It's just a question of what happens to income of the book after its been published." Shai has enlisted a wide range of cosponsors for the bill, from both the coalition and opposition, he said, and believes the bill will pass easily.

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