The Beersheba District Court on Sunday acquitted a man who was accused of ordering a double-murder in August 2010 and spent some three years in jail awaiting trial. The court convicted three others for the crime, including the hit man who pulled the trigger.

Michael Tansky was accused of contracting the murders of Moshe Echayev and Veronica Kav for a NIS 1,500 fee, because of a dispute between Echayev and the brother of a man serving prison time with Tansky, who was incarcerated for another crime at the time.

Dimitry Skordock, the hit man who shot the two victims, and his accomplices Sergei Amirov and Igor Tzironi, were convicted of both murders, conspiracy to commit a felony, and various weapons offenses.

The court’s three-judge panel split its votes, with Judge Mordecai Levy voting in the majority to acquit Tansky and voting in the minority to acquit some of the others.

Judge Ariel Hazak voted with Levy in the majority to acquit Tansky, but voted with Judge Chani Slutansky to convict the other defendant.

Although the three convictions were a success for the prosecution, the acquittal of Tansky was a surprising setback, and the Justice Ministry sought to perform immediate damage control.

Within a short time of the verdicts, the ministry said in a statement that, “The case was complex from an evidentiary perspective. The prosecution believed that there should be a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt” also in the case of the alleged “contractor of the murders.”

It continued, “The court did not accept our position. We will review the verdict and weigh whether or not to appeal.”

Four other accomplices to the murders were previously convicted, bringing the tally to seven convictions out of eight defendants, but still leaving the alleged contractor of the murders to go free.

Tansky, who remained in jail for around three years since being arrested for the murders, will be released from custody unless the prosecution files a motion to delay his release pending its decision about whether to appeal.

Part of the trial and Tansky’s eventual acquittal revolved around the prosecution’s inability to find sufficient confirming circumstantial evidence to strengthen the veracity of the testimony of the state’s witness.

The state’s witness was involved in the murder, but cut a deal with the prosecution to testify against the other defendants.

However, Israeli criminal law requires sufficient confirming circumstantial evidence for a conviction based on the testimony of a state’s witness who had been involved in the crime.

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