State weighs publicizing Prisoner X cause of death

Justice Ministry is considering the publication of the forensic report examining the death of Ben Zygier.

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February 16, 2013 23:09
2 minute read.
Ben Zygier

Ben Zygier 370. (photo credit: Screen shot ABC News)

 
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The Justice Ministry is considering the publication of the report examining the death of Ben Zygier, which ruled that the so-called Prisoner X committed suicide in his cell at Ayalon Prison in December 2010.

An investigation carried out by Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai, president of the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, concluded a month and a half ago that Zygier, 34, died of asphyxiation by hanging.

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A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said on Saturday that the ministry was checking ways in which to make the findings of the report public, possibly as soon as this week.

The life-and-death saga of Zygier, identified in foreign reports as a one-time Mossad employee who was jailed in early 2010 for unspecified crimes associated with his service in the agency, continues to grip the Israeli media.

Speaking on Channel 2’s Meet the Press on Saturday night, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted that Zygier, a dual Australian- Israeli national, was jailed for offenses that threatened the security of the State of Israel.

“We are a special country in terms of our security situation, and because of security needs and sometimes even to save lives we must take extreme measures,” Ya’alon said. “We should assume that if he got to this point, there was information that necessitated it.”



He defended the government’s actions, saying that “we are not a dark dictatorship like Stalin’s Soviet Union or Argentina,” and that “the people in Israel who needed to know about this knew.

“If we want in an extreme case to put someone in prison under a fake name, it’s done with the supervision of the judiciary, with the family and the executive branch knowing,” Ya’alon said.

He also said that every suicide in Israel is investigated, including Zygier’s.

On Friday, Reuters published the results of a forensic report it commissioned that concluded that Zygier and a suspect in the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al- Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010 were not the same man.

The report followed an article in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida on Thursday that quoted anonymous Western sources who said Zygier was part of the team that killed Mahbouh and that he later gave Dubai information on the identities of the operatives who took part in the hit.

The Reuters examination narrowed the passport photos that the Dubai police released of suspects in Mahbouh’s killing down to one forged picture from an Australian passport with the name Joshua Daniel Bruce that it determined was the picture most likely to be Zygier in disguise. The examination determined that the man was not Zygier.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report

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