As the Yaron Commission Thursday watched the reenactment of serial rapist Benny Sela's escape from police custody, one embarrassing revelation followed another as a police officer portraying the convict managed to escape the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court compound in 20 seconds. In the course of the reenactment, a member of the police special forces demonstrated how Sela was capable of scaling the wall in less than half a minute, despite the fact that he was wearing handcuffs. The handcuffs that Sela was wearing, it was revealed Thursday, had not been locked with the double safety-latch with which they were outfitted.
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Policemen Isaac Bodrashvili and Haim Tirana, the two members of the prisoner escort unit who were transferring Sela when he ran free, were the first to arrive at the scene of the reenactment on Thursday morning. They were joined by the members of the Yaron Commission and their commanders, as well as a minimum-security prisoner who had been working in the courtyard.
The escape apparently occurred when Sela told one of the two policemen that he had left a notebook in the transport vehicle in the courtyard. When Tirana went back outside to retrieve Sela's notebook, Sela sped past him, scaled the wall and leapt to freedom.
Even then, it was the prisoner working in the courtyard that sounded the alarm, allegedly yelling "Escape, escape!" The guard at the gate to the courtyard, it was revealed Thursday, had been talking on his cell phone, while the Uzi that he was supposed to be carrying was resting inside the guardhouse. Even after the escape, rather than pursuing Sela across the wall, the guard reportedly ran back around, through the gate, in order to pursue the suspect.
After watching the reenactment, commission head Gen. Amos Yaron (Res.) summarized the incident as "a significant failure."
Also Thursday, police realized that what had appeared Wednesday to be a significant lead in the Safed area, was yet another false alarm. A 40-year-old Safed beggar was found to be the "suspicious man" that several residents had reported seeing.
"They keep arresting me. Yesterday they arrested me, today they arrested me. Please, when you see me, don't call the police. I'm not Benny Sela," the beggar told gathered cameras as he left the Safed police station.
Tomorrow, Tel Aviv District Commander Cmdr. David Tzur will face questioning by the Yaron Commission. Tzur allegedly failed to take action against the problematic Prisoner Escort Unit after an earlier prison break - also under their watch - two months before Sela's escape.