Delta airline plane.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One of Israel’s most notorious underworld figures left the country on Monday and police and prosecutors fear he may have no plan of returning, all due to the failure of the state to secure a travel ban on his passport in time.
Moti Hassin, aka “The Spectacles,” flew out of Ben-Gurion Airport to Bulgaria on Monday, along with fellow underworld figure Shlomi Niamchuk. The two left the country just a day after prosecutors issued an appeal of Hassin’s acquittal last month on a double murder charge to the Supreme Court.
On Monday, after hearing that he was about to board a flight, prosecutors issued a request to the Supreme Court to put a travel ban on Hassin and Niamchik and have them arrested – until the end of legal proceedings against them. The court denied the request, saying it could not be made without a hearing on the matter. The hearing will be on Thursday, long after the Hassin and Niamchik left Israel. If prosecutors had submitted the request for a travel ban and arrest along with the appeal, the hearing may have been held before Monday’s flight to Bulgaria.
Both Hassin and Niamchuk reportedly have return flights to Israel set to land already on Wednesday. It is unclear if they will return.
Hassin went on trial in November 2013 for the murders of Avi David and Itzik Geffen, two former associates and friends of his, who had reportedly crossed over to rival crime gangs. Hassin and fellow defendants Yitzhak Zerbi and brothers Shlomi and Ofir Niamchuk were all acquitted of the murders in September.
The killings were believed to be carried out by Hassin after he returned to Israel from Mexico to head up the Abergil crime syndicate after former boss Yitzhak Abergil was extradited to the US. Police suspect the killings were what are known in Israel as “red riding hood” murders, where the victim is invited to a meeting by the killer, and then murdered after arrival.
Hassin’s father, Aharon Hassin, fled Israel in 1999 after he was convicted of the murder of David Edry, an underworld arbitrator. He was only extradited back to Israel from the United States in 2006.