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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Supreme Court rejected suspected underworld figure Ze'ev Rosenstein's appeal against his extradition to the United States to stand trial on charges of conspiring to smuggle ecstasy pills into the US.
Rosenstein's defense team has asked Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to postpone his extradition to the United States by two weeks. The delay would allow Rosenstein to appeal his case before the justice minister.
Rosenstein was considering appealing the Supreme Court's decision to the High Court of Justice.
According to the court's ruling, which was written by Justice Edmond Levy, "the Jerusalem District Court was right in declaring Rosenstein extraditable. This is not the place to discuss whether Rosenstein is guilty or innocent. But I was persuaded that the extradition request from the US government demonstrated prima facie evidence against him to the degree required for extradition. In these circumstances, we must accept the request."
The court rejected the main arguments presented by Rosenstein in his appeal. Rosenstein said that the crimes he was accused of, according to the prosecution, were committed in Israel, and therefore he should be tried in Israel. He also said that the extradition law was meant to protect the rights of Israelis to be tried in their own country, and that he was not a fugitive, since he lived in Israel permanently and had not fled there to protect punishment abroad.
In the appeal, Rosenstein also challenged the state's argument that it would be impossible to try him in Israel because it would be too expensive to fly over witnesses from the US. According to Rosenstein, only a few witnesses needed to be examined by the court in connection with the allegations against him.
The court ruled that the question was where the main focus of the crime was centered, and in this case, the crime was centered in the United States.
The court also ruled that although Israeli citizens enjoyed a constitutional right not to be extradited, there were also exceptions to the rule, and this was one of them.
The critical issue in the Rosenstein case is the fight against international crime, wrote the judges.
Yitzhak Blum, one of the prosecutors in the case, said that he was very pleased with the court's decision, and that it was extremely important for the future, in order to enable countries to cope with the internationalization of crime. Blum said that this fight requires utmost cooperation between the police and the prosecution in various countries around the world.
Rosenstein appealed a decision by Jerusalem District Court Judge Ya'acov Tsaban, who on April 19 approved the state's request to rule that Rosenstein was eligible for extradition. He was being represented in the case by Devorah Chen, the former head of the security affairs section of the State Attorney's Office, Ariel Bendor, former dean of the law faculty at Haifa University, and Shlomo Nissim, a former senior prosecutor in the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office.
According to the extradition request sent by the US government, Rosenstein is wanted to stand trial in the US District Court in southern Florida on the basis of complaints that he was involved in smuggling more than one million ecstasy pills into the US. Another charge involves a plan to smuggle 700,000 ecstasy pills which were seized by New York City police on July 17, 2001.
US authorities compiled information about Rosenstein's suspected role from four Israelis who allegedly worked for Rosenstein and were apprehended in connection with the drug-smuggling efforts.