crime scene 88.
(photo credit: )
Two 22-year-old members of one of Israel's most infamous organized crime families were arrested in connection with the December 2004 murder of Ra'anan Levy at a club at Kibbutz Shefayim near Netanya.
Francois Abutbul and his cousin Avi were arrested after a long investigation by detectives of the Sharon Central Investigative Unit. The cousins' remands were extended by one week by the Netanya Magistrate's Court on Sunday afternoon.
In an interview on Sunday, Ra'anan Levy's sister Merav said, referring to the arrests, "It is both a happy day and a hard day, because it brings up painful memories."
She said her family is only seeking justice, and "they are not looking for revenge, but for the right punishment."
Even with two suspects in custody, she said, "We still don't know if they are the killers."
About the two-year investigation, she commented it was "society's biggest mistake to let organized crime grow so large and dangerous," and "it is scary to drive down the street, or walk in the shopping center, because the man next in line might be my brother's killer."
Levy, 18, had reportedly been reluctant to go out with his friends to the nightclub on the night of the murder. According to eyewitnesses, they were waiting outside the club when they struck up a conversation with a girl who was also waiting to enter. But, they said, the girl's boyfriend suspected Levy of flirting with his girlfriend and alerted a group of friends - some of whom were allegedly affiliated with Netanya's flourishing underworld - who then chased Levy in a jeep. After catching him, one of them got out of the car and stabbed him in the heart. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Levy was described by those who knew him as a quiet homebody, who was the "least likely" person in the world to be involved in violence. An off-duty Border Police officer who intervened to try and stop the violence was also injured in the fracas.
For almost two years, police made no arrests in the case, despite testimony by Levy's friends and other eyewitnesses that identified the alleged killers. After a gag order on the case was removed about six month ago, Levy's parents began to speak out - questioning why the investigation was moving so slowly and decrying the frequency of youth violence in Israeli society.
When interviewed by The Jerusalem Post in May, the Levys despaired that their son's killers would never be caught because of their ties to organized crime.