Santa distributes free Christmas trees in the Old City..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A man who donned a Santa Claus mask and stabbed an Orthodox Christian leader to death during a Christmas procession in 2012 was convicted of murder on Sunday, along with two other suspects who took part in the killing.
The two main defendants – Tufik Dalou and Fuad Abu Mana – were convicted of murder and conspiracy, while Talal Abu Mana, Fuad’s uncle, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and accessory to murder.
According to the indictment, it was Fuad who actually stabbed Gabriel Cadis, the chairman of the Jaffa Orthodox Church Association, while Tufik acted as a lookout. The motive for the murder was a property dispute between the association and the Abu Mana family, members of which lived in a Jaffa house belonging to the association, which sought to repossess the property.
Grief and shock gripped Jaffa after the murder, which took place just after a parade and church service held on Jaffa’s “Yefet” boulevard to mark the Orthodox Christmas. The killers were seen fleeing the scene wearing Santa Claus masks and the next day, more than a thousand people – Christians, Muslims, and Jews held a memorial procession on Yefet for the acclaimed community leader.
Tufik and Fuad – then aged 24 and 26 - stalked Cadis during the parade, keeping the murder weapon concealed while they took turns wearing the Santa Claus beard and hat. They then attended a church service on Louis Pasteur service, and after it finished, they stalked Cadis to his car in a nearby parking lot, where Fuad stabbed him twice in the back, puncturing his left lung and severing a major artery.
They were caught by surveillance cameras fleeing the scene on foot, running in opposite directions across Jaffa. Fuad made his way to Talal’s house, where he helped him establish an alibi and change clothes.
Talal’s mother lived in the house on rent control and after she died a few years ago, the association demanded the family return the property. Talal – 55 at the time of the murder - clashed openly with the association, and issued threats against Cadis and the association publicly on a number of occasions, including during a meeting of the association a little over a week before the murder, during which he said that if they didn’t cancel the legal proceedings to repossess the house “there will be blood”.
He was also heard saying that he could “send one of his brother’s sons” to Cadis’s office to “eliminate” him and that with his connections he could “get out of jail within five years.”
The property is an apartment on Ahiluf Street in Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, which in recent years has gone through rapid gentrification that has seen real estate prices soar.
The suspects were among several people arrested in the days after the murder, and less than a month after the crime they were indicted for the murder in the Tel Aviv District Court.