French consulate worker imported guns to Israel, incarcerated for 7 years

The court convicted Roman Frank of committing three weapons offenses (import, carry, and transport) and of acceptance under false pretenses.

By YASSER OKBI/MAARIV
April 8, 2019 21:00
2 minute read.
french consulate worker

A French consulate worker alleged to have smuggled weapons to Hamas in Gaza. (Shin Bet). (photo credit: SHIN BET)

 
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The Beersheba District Court on Monday sentenced Roman Frank, a French citizen and employee of the French consulate in Jerusalem, to seven years in prison.

The court convicted Roman Frank of committing three weapons offenses (import, carry, and transport) and of acceptance under false pretenses.

The consulate employee was arrested last March on suspicion of transferring Hamas arms shipments from Gaza to the West Bank, using his Citroen vehicle with diplomatic plates. Frank, a French citizen who was employed as a driver at the consulate, used his official passport to pass the inspection at the Erez crossing and enter the Gaza Strip. He admitted during his interrogation that during the last three months before his arrest, he had transferred dozens of arms shipments. According to reports in the French media, the suspect was arrested after seizing weapons stockpiles in East Jerusalem, a week before the affair was exposed by the security forces.

According to the indictment in which the defendant admitted, on three separate occasions, the defendant, who worked as a consular employee at the French consulate in Jerusalem, brought about 30 weapons from the Gaza Strip to Israel In exchange, the defendant received NIS 26,000 as written in the indictment.

In addition to the way Frank used his position to transfer the weapons, the indictment describes his connections with others involved, including Zuhair, a French cultural center worker in Gaza. The two had prior acquaintance with Frank's work and his trips to Gaza. During this period, on several occasions, Frank transferred to Zuhair's request various valuables from Gaza to Israel, using the free passage through the Erez crossing in his consular vehicle.


In November 2017, Zuhair suggested to Frank that he join a connection with a Gaza resident named Muhammad Jamal al-Khaldi to trade weapons and transfer weapons from the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing to Israel, and from there to transfer them to others in the West Bank. Later, more joined the scheme.

As part of the arrangement, it was agreed that the defendant would be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, probation and a NIS 30,000 fine.

The sentence states that "the cynical exploitation of the consular officer's status as a consular employee is potentially harmful to the fabric of the relationship between the state and consular staff serving in it. For example, following such acts, the physical tests conducted in the future for consular vehicles leaving and entering Gaza and the territories of Judea and Samaria will be more meticulous."

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