Ben Zygier at his wedding 370.
(photo credit: ABC Screenshot)
Alleged Mossad operative Ben Zygier hanged himself in his cell at Ayalon Prison
in Ramle in 2010 by tying a wet sheet to the window bars of the shower and
wrapping the other end around his neck, according to an investigation released
for publication on Tuesday.
The December 2012 report by Judge Daphna
Blatman Kedrai, president of the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, places blame
directly on the Prisons Service, saying it failed in its responsibilities toward
the 34-year-old Australian- Israeli citizen.
“At the conclusion of the
investigation I found evidence to blame officials in the IPS [Israel Prisons
Service] for causing the death of the deceased,” she said.
said that the Prisons Service was given clear instructions to prevent Zygier
from committing suicide, which “were known to the authorities responsible for
supervision and oversight. These instructions were not carried out, and the
window of opportunity for suicide that was created resulted... in the suicide of
The judge said that in light of the evidence, she did not
see a reason to close the case, leaving the door open for possible prosecution
of prison officials for negligence, even though the report rules out the
possibility that someone else was involved in Zygier’s death.
found of a tranquilizer drug of some sort in Zygier’s bloodstream, but the medication played no role in his
death, according to the report.
Prisons Service commander Aharon Franco
responded on Tuesday that after he took up his post in April 2011, he was
updated on the case of Zygier, his death and the reasons behind his isolation
from the general inmate population.
Zygier’s cell “was not under
observation or supervision to prevent suicide as we know [the procedures]
today,” Franco said.
This would appear to indicate that officials were
not instructed that he was a suicide risk, or that the most important aspect of
Zygier’s detention was not that he be kept on constant suicide watch, but rather
that he be kept isolated and unable to speak to other inmates due to security
Franco also said that Zygier met with his lawyers and
family regularly, and was able to telephone his family quite often.
loosening of the gag order on the court report only applies to eight of the
document’s 28 pages. The other 20 pages remain stricken from
According to the report, at 8:19 p.m. on December 15, 2010,
Zygier was found dead inside his cell at Ayalon Prison.
He was hanging in
his shower cell, with a sheet tied around his neck, and the other end tied to
the bars of the shower, an area of the cell not covered by the surveillance
The next day, the state appointed the Lod-based Serious and
International Crime Investigation Unit – one of the top units of the Israel
Police – to look into the death, the report says.
On January 19, 2011, a
representative of Zygier’s family met with court officials and asked for the
family to able to take part in the proceedings.
Blatman Kedrai said she
accepted the family’s request to allow their legal counsel to be present at
hearings involving the case. On May 5, 2011, the judge decided that the family
should be able to receive the investigative materials.
The case of the
Melbourneborn Zygier broke in Israel last week, when the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation ran an investigative report alleging that Zygier was the so-called
“Prisoner X,” an anonymous prisoner who killed himself in solitary confinement
in 2010, with his existence unknown to the public. The report alleged that
Zygier, who went by the name Ben Alon in Israel, may have worked for the Mossad
at some point before he was arrested in early 2010.
On Tuesday, the Prime
Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that, contrary to reports, Zygier
did not have any connection to Australian intelligence agencies.
Prime Minister’s Office would like to note that between the government of Israel
and all its agencies, and the government of Australia and the Australian
security agencies, there is excellent cooperation, full coordination and
complete transparency in dealing with current issues,” the statement
Reports in the foreign press have made a battery of claims
about Zygier, a married father of two, including that he was about to or had
already spilled secrets about Mossad operations to Australian intelligence, and
that he had given up the identities of Mossad operatives to Dubai authorities
following the killing there of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in 2010.