For those familiar with the workings of the underworld, last week's murder of Sagi Or, 33 and Rafael Ronen, 52, seemed a little bit too professional to be the work of disgruntled adolescents upset at being locked out of one of Tel Aviv's hot parties. On Tuesday, police revealed that such suspicions may indeed be well-founded.
A gag order on the case was partially lifted to reveal that the lead suspect in the case is none other than Shai Shirazi, the son of Netanya-based mob boss Rico Shirazi.
Or, 33 and Ronen, 52, both Haifa residents, were gunned down by a motorcyclist outside of the Night nightclub in southern Tel Aviv. The drive-by shooter opened fire on a group of people standing outside of the club, also shooting an additional three people, one of whom remains in serious condition.
Shirazi was one of three suspects arrested shortly after the murder, and at his arraignment, police suggested that the three were settling a score from a fight that took place Sunday outside of the same nightclub. In that fight, Or allegedly injured two out of three of the suspects - one of whom was Shirazi. Rico Shirazi confirmed Tuesday that his son had been involved in the brawl, and had required stitches afterwards - but denied that his son was behind Or and Ronen's murders.
Shirazi the father also reiterated the frequently-heard claim repeated by almost all of Israel's alleged mob bosses - that he and his family are innocent victims of police harassment. He said that Shai and his friends had already established alibis for the time of the murder.
From the first hours after the murder, despite the gag order placed on all evidence related to the case, eyewitness testimony described the assailant as a drive-by motorcyclist - leading many to suspect that the person - or people - behind the killings had ties to the criminal underworld.
Drive-by attacks by motorcyclists are favored by all but the highest echelons of organized crime. There are currently at least two unsolved cases involving similar attacks in the Tel Aviv area, both of which are suspected to be mob-related.
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