Judges preside in court (Illustrative).
(photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court judge released reputed international drug trafficker Moshe Malul from custody on Monday following his recent arrest in the historic “Case 512” dragnet, which has seen the arrests of over 50 Israeli organized crime figures.
According to the judge, police erred when they arrested Malul – known as one of the world’s biggest Ecstasy dealers – because he had already been unsuccessfully tried for the crimes with which he was being charged.
On announcing Malul’s release, the judge criticized the arresting officers for lack of due diligence.
Still, a police official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, claimed that the arrest had been proper and that Malul should not have been freed from custody.
Malul was extradited from America in August 2008, along with Yitzhak and Meir Abergil, for his alleged role in the August 2003 killing of Israeli drug dealer Sami Attias in Encino, California.
The killing was purportedly in revenge for Attias’s having stolen money from the three men.
Malul went free after agreeing to a plea bargain with the California district attorney, in which he confessed to extortion of more than $1 million from another underworld figure, and the remainder of the charges against him were subsequently dropped.
Though the details of the Case 512 investigation, as well as the identities of the suspects, are still banned from publication, those arrested include a number of senior members of a leading crime family, and a number of high-ranking associates from smaller affiliates, police said.
Overseeing the investigation are the Lahav 433 unit and the central investigative unit of the Tel Aviv Police.