Crime Scene 300.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
The Supreme Court on Wednesday reduced the prison sentence of Tira-based crime
boss Marwan Nasser from 15 to 13 years. The court also reduced the sentences of
his two co-appellants, gang members Shadi Nasser and Avi Alon. Nasser’s sentence
was cut from 10 to nine years and Alon’s from nine to seven
Significantly, in their judgement, the three justices – Asher Dan
Grunis, Yoram Danziger and Yitzhak Amit – issued a stern warning to police,
saying that leaking information to the media about cases pending trial could
lead to evidence being disqualified.
The court’s censure came in response
to a complaint by Nasser’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, over an interview police
gave to Channel 2 in 2007, when the case was pending trial. In that interview,
police officers talked openly about the case.
Nasser, Shadi and Alon were
convicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in 2008 of membership in an organized
crime ring, moneylaundering and racketeering, in a case that made legal history
in which judges used the 2003 Anti-Organized Crime Law to impose stiff prison
sentences on Nasser and his fellow gang members. That law empowers courts to
impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years for membership in an organized crime
Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling is significant, because it partly
amends that precedent- setting ruling. The three justices accepted the defense’s
position that the court should take into account the fact that the main offenses
attributed to all three appellants had taken place before the Anti-Organized
Crime Law came into effect.
The district court sentenced Nasser to 15
years in prison, and ordered him to pay a fine of NIS 3 million or spend another
three years in prison. His sentence, which goes above the maximum 10 years
allowed by the anti-organized crime law, takes into account the conviction of
multiple changes against him. The district court said that the fine was intended
to impact the organized crime ring’s finances.
His co-defendants, senior
gang members Shadi Nasser and Avi Alon, also received harsh sentences. Shadi –
who, like Marwan, is from Tira – was sentenced to 10 years in prison and given a
fine of NIS 1m. Alon, a Kfar Saba resident, was sentenced to nine years in
prison and also fined NIS 1m.
However, in the Supreme Court appeal,
Nasser’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, argued that Nasser’s sentence should be
reduced on the grounds that the charges against them related to events that had
taken place before the legislation was passed. Feldman, who also represents
former president Moshe Katsav, argued that the district court’s precedent-
setting use of anti-organized crime legislation had led to judges imposing a
harsher sentence than in previous cases.
All three appellants argued
against their conviction on money-laundering charges on the grounds that the
relevant legislation, the Money-Laundering Law, was passed after they carried
out their offenses, so they were not aware their actions were criminal.