A hired underworld assassin shot dead the Haifa director of the Ashkenazi Hevra Kadisha (Burial Society), Benny Hesse, last year after being paid NIS 50,000, police announced on Wednesday, following the arrest of a suspect.

Hesse, who was 68, was walking home with his wife in January 2011 when a gunman waiting in ambush opened fire on him from close range, striking him multiple times and killing him.

He had been director of the Haifa branch of Hevra Kadisha for more than 20 years.

The Coastal Police central unit said a breakthrough occurred in the investigation last November, when a worker accidentally found the handgun hidden between rocks at a Beit Shemesh mikve ritual bath.

The gun was sent to a police lab and found to be a ballistic match to a firearm stolen in Haifa in 2001. The gun was traced to a suspect named by police as Yitzhak Hazan.

“We were able to link Hazan to the murder scene,” said Asst.-Cmdr Eli Asayag of the central unit.

Hazan, 49, did not cooperate with police during questioning and has not confessed. Northern state prosecutors will charge him with murder on Friday.

Police also arrested his divorcee on suspicion of assisting Hazan, but later released her without charge.

They believe Hazan was paid NIS 50,000 for carrying out the shooting. He told police he received the money for renovation works.

Police arrested two men from the Haifa area on suspicion of ordering the shooting, but later released them without charge.

Israel Radio said the men had ties to the Kurdish Hevra Kadisha in the North.

Detectives believe the homicide was ordered due to a dispute over how the burial society was being run.

One suspicion is that the dispute was over finances and the division of a cemetery in Haifa.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger