Moshe Ben-Ivgi 370.
(photo credit: Police Spokesman's Office)
Fugitive convict Moshe Ben-Ivgi was extradited from Argentina last week. But
that’s no success story. If anything, it has to be regarded as one of the more
disheartening chapters in Israel's judicial annals. Most distressing, though, is
that it’s not really unique.
In 1994, Ben-Ivgi and his accomplice Arbel
Aloni both aged 14 shocked the entire disbelieving country when they
cold-blooded murdered taxi driver Derek Roth in Herzliya.
evil didn¹t end after being sentenced to only 16 years each (because they were
Despite their distinct displays of extreme sociopathy, both
youths were allowed leave-time from prison. During a 1998 furlough they jointly
held up a grocery and sadistically battered its elderly
Although sentenced to five additional years each and
although thereafter wardens and psychologists ruled against further furloughs,
the violent robbery didn’t prevent one judge from granting Ben-Ivgi leave.
During a 2004 furlough, Ben-Ivgi fled overseas with a false passport, despite
solemnly promising the court to stay home under parental supervision.
known accomplices were never tried.
Ben-Ivgi eventually made it to Buenos
Aires. Although Israel had no extradition treaty with any Latin American state
(most countries don't), Argentina agreed to extradite Ben-Ivgi for robbery,
though not the murder committed by a minor. Nonetheless, extradition was delayed
because Israel's request lacked a judge's signature. When Argentina's Supreme
Court afforded Israel the opportunity to file another extradition application,
Israel incredibly managed to miss the 30-day deadline.
Ben-Ivgi, unjailed and sporting a new surname – Sagui – married and fathered a
child. From afar, he even taunted the widow with offers to trade information
about Roth¹s last words for a hefty sum.
After a sequence of indefensible
Israeli bureaucratic bungles and after nine years at large, Ben-Ivgi has finally
returned to do five years for robbery. But this should by no means even
partially put anyone's mind at ease.
Unaccounted for is the lenience
which countenances vacations for untrustworthy convicts like Ben-Ivgi, who
already exploited one furlough to commit serious crime.
justification existed to allow him the benefit of another doubt.
cases of easygoing judicial liberality ended horrendously.
It's a dismal
Police officer Shlomi Asulin died in 2011 – silent and immobile –
after over four-and-a-half years in a coma. He was gravely wounded in the first
week of 2007 when he sought to apprehend two car thieves on his Rehovot beat.
One of them, Tareb Abu-Issa from the Beduin township of Tel Sheva, stabbed the
27-year-old Asulin in the neck. Abu-Issa was a convict on furlough, doing four
years for burglary and larceny. Rafi Nahmani, who assassinated Judge Adi Azar
while on furlough in 2004, was given a life sentence.
imposes no capital punishment, Nahmani had nothing to lose. Common sense should
have denied him leave.
In 2005, 15-year-old Ma’ayan Sapir was raped,
sodomized and murdered near her Rehovot home by a juvenile convict with a
particularly vicious past. He was freed on regular furloughs from a closed,
super-security correctional facility. Given his ultra-brutal history, he should
have not been set loose.
Some vacationing prisoners don¹t voluntarily
return to confinement.
“Southern rapist” Meir Assur, who once terrorized
the Negev, was allowed time-out too, despite the high recidivism rate of
sex-offenders. For too long he evaded capture.
Furloughs are even granted
routinely to violent husbands convicted of severe domestic terror. Many revisit
home to kill.
The choice in certain instances mustn¹t be rehabilitation
Public safety must be the paramount concern. Dangerous
offenders must be isolated from society so they won’t imperil ordinary
Israeli law defines furloughs as a perk, not a right. Bitter
experience ought to teach our law-enforcers that it's better to err on the side
of caution than treat given prisoners with the benevolent indulgence they
palpably do not deserve.
The overriding objective of Israel's courts must
be to protect the law-abiding populace. Gullibility is a perilous gamble. It's
high time our judiciary's scale of values were ruefully reassessed in the light
of the enduring Jewish adage which emphasizes that “he who is merciful to the
cruel will eventually be cruel to the merciful.”