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(photo credit: Courtesy Naor Gal)
Disgraced television entertainer Dudu Topaz and three accomplices were served with a first indictment at the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday over a string of violent attacks directed at high-profile media figures who rejected Topaz's ideas for television programs.
Topaz and his fellow suspects - two security guards allegedly paid tens of thousands of shekels by the entertainer to carry out the attacks, and neighbor Daniel Zanko, who is accused of mediating between Topaz and the attackers - faced a total of seven charges, including aggravated assault, blackmail through threats, and subverting a legal process.
During the indictment, State Prosecutor Anat Ben-Ze'ev said Topaz had proven that he was "a major criminal, a dangerous and violent person with no limits, who spent long months meticulously calculating his revenge on the media world, only because he was upset that his stardom was fading."
Ben-Ze'ev added that Topaz showed no mercy for his victims.
If convicted, Topaz could face a lengthy prison sentence.
The indictment sheet detailed how Topaz hired goons to assault Shira Margalit, deputy director-general of the Reshet television network; Avi Nir, director-general of the Keshet network, and acting agent Boaz Ben-Zion.
According to the indictment, Topaz paid NIS 8,000 shekels for the assault on Nir.
Last November, Nir was confronted by two men near his north Tel Aviv home and severely beaten with clubs. He was rushed to hospital covered in blood, suffering a broken nose, cuts to his face, and broken ribs.
Topaz then allegedly paid an additional NIS 5,000 for the attack on Nir.
Ben-Ze'ev told the court that Topaz had sent his victims misleading threatening letters in a calculated bid to deflect suspicions that he was behind the attack.
After his attack, Nir received a letter which was made to look as if it came from a fanatical group of Betar Jerusalem fans, but which was actually sent by Topaz.
In January, Ben-Zion was punched in the face after exiting his home. He had received a threatening phone call minutes before the assault. The indictment sheet revealed that Topaz had been unhappy with the "low" level of violence used in that attack, and ordered a more violent assault on the actor's agent.
Topaz allegedly paid NIS 30,000 for the attack on Shira Margalit. He is said to have passed a written description of the Reshet TV network executive to Zenko, who ordered the goons to "slap her twice so that she ends up in hospital."
Last month, Margalit, 40, required hospital treatment after being repeatedly punched by two men near her north Tel Aviv home. Upon hearing her screams, Margalit's partner ran outside the home, and was sprayed in the face with pepper spray.
Topaz was also accused of ordering an attack on Amos Regev, editor of the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, who turned down Topaz's idea to write a column.
Topaz sent Zanko a text message last month ordering the attacks to cease after a wave of rumors washed over the media linking Topaz to them.
"Let's delay the additional 'renovation' for the time being," Topaz wrote.
"Fine. When you want to 'renovate' I have the best contractor," Zanko replied.
Three more suspects - including two brothers arrested in Kfar Saba on Wednesday in connection with the attacks - will be indicted at a later stage, prosecutors said.