Convicted contract killer Yaron Sankar.
(photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL PRISON SERVICE)
An escaped convicted contract killer was caught on Sunday night – hours after he slipped out of Assaf Harofeh hospital, where he was receiving treatment. Assaf Harofeh is located near the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway about 15 kilometers from Ben-Gurion Airport.
Yaron Sankar, serving two life sentences for a double murder in 2003, disappeared from his hospital room shortly before midnight on Sunday. Around 1:30 a.m., the Prisons Service spokesman reported that Sankar had been arrested at the Beersheba Central Bus Station, where a security guard recognized him from a picture put out by police and tackled him, holding him until officers arrived.
Sankar was taken for questioning by the Central District Police, who along with the Prisons Service are working to determine how he escaped – in particular, how he managed to get out of his handcuffs and evade the armed prison guards posted to his room, all while wearing hospital clothes.
Sankar also reportedly made it at least part of the way to Beersheba by way of a taxi.
Police are investigating whether he received assistance in his short-lived escape.
The Prisons Service said Monday afternoon that Sankar had been returned to their medical facility in Ramle, where he is being kept in solitary confinement.
Sankar has undergone questioning by police investigators from the Central District, and in the coming days a special committee will issue their findings on the escape, with particular focus on the conduct of the guards tasked with supervising Sankar when he escaped, the agency said.
Sankar’s escape followed his 85-day hunger strike, staged to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. Due to his declining health, he was taken on September 27 from Nitzan Prison to Assaf Harofeh, where he was receiving liquids.
Sankar, a former contract killer, was convicted in October 2006 of the murder-for-hire of Haim Shabi, gunned down three years earlier in a Ramat Hasharon barber shop along with Tomer Shabbat, an innocent bystander. Sankar also served as a state witness, giving information that helped the police secure convictions for a number of crimes, including the 2003 murder of Ashkelon teen Shaked Shalhov.
Sankar argued that the state promised to be lenient with his sentencing in exchange for his assistance.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered the Prisons Service on Sunday night to launch an inquiry to determine how the escape occurred, calling it “something that we |cannot allow to happen.”
Sankarescapedthedayafterthe cabinet approved the appointment of new Prisons Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger.
The Sankar incident is one of a series of security failures that took place during the term of current Commissioner Aharon Franco: the escape of a “get refuser” who fled through a rabbinical court bathroom window in 2013; an incident that same month when a man being held for attempted murder stole an Prisons Service officer’s gun and tied up his guards before fleeing a hospital in Kfar Saba; and most notably, the February 2014 episode in which Samuel Sheinbein, an American Israeli who fled to Israel in 1997 to escape extradition for a heinous murder, managed to smuggle a gun into Rimonim Prison and shoot several guards before he was gunned down.