Benny Sela under arrest (illustrative).
(photo credit: Israel Police)
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Thursday convicted serial rapist Benny
Sela of escaping from lawful custody over five years ago.
Sela, 41, is
serving a 35-year sentence for the rape and sodomy of 13 women.
believe Sela committed at least 24, and perhaps as many as 34 rapes, sexual
assaults and sexual molestations of women and girls over the course of five
According to the indictment, Sela escaped from custody when
Prisons Service guards brought him to the Tel Aviv District Court for a hearing
in November 2006. He was recaptured less than a month later.
the court acquitted Sela of assaulting an officer in aggravated circumstances
and instead convicted him of illegally resisting arrest. Sela was also convicted
of breaking into a place of residence in Pardess Hanna, car theft and
unauthorized vehicle use when he was on the run from custody.
Thursday’s hearing, Judge Irit Weinberg Nutovitz said the evidence showed Sela
was a “problem prisoner” and “not an innocent victim as he presented himself and
one can assume that his violent and provocative behavior sometimes provoked
aggressive responses from other prisoners and prison guards.”
the hearing, Sela requested that the prosecution release copies of evidentiary
material so that he could examine them, and also asked to be allowed to have
access from prison to a legal database. The judge refused and told Sela to file
an application via the prison service. The court will hear sentencing arguments
later this month.
When Sela was 13, his alcoholic father committed
suicide within view of the family’s apartment, jumping from an electrical pole.
In 1994, a series of terrifying rapes and sexual assaults unfolded in Tel Aviv.
The attacker, later revealed as Sela, would ask his victims personal questions
and force them to shower afterward to reduce the physical evidence.
was initially convicted of committing rape and sodomy in October 2000 in the Tel
Aviv District Court.
After Sela’s escape, hundreds of police officers
began a search throughout Tel Aviv, with cruisers, mounted police and a
helicopter searching for him. A nationwide manhunt involving thousands of police
officers was launched.
On December 8, 2006, Sela was arrested at a police
checkpoint near Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. He resisted arrest and tried to
escape, but was chased down and apprehended.