Alleged crime boss Shali Azoulay released from Polish prison on bail

Azoulay, 40, was arrested in October 2020 in Amsterdam, as he was wanted in Poland on suspicion of drug dealing. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

 Extradition of Shalom-Lior "Shali" Azoulay to Poland in May 2021. (photo credit: POLAND POLICE/SCREENSHOT)
Extradition of Shalom-Lior "Shali" Azoulay to Poland in May 2021.
(photo credit: POLAND POLICE/SCREENSHOT)

Alleged gang leader Shalom-Lior "Shali" Azoulay was released on bail from prison in Poland after being detained under harsh conditions for over a year, Walla reports. 

Azoulay, 40, was arrested in October 2020 at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam amid an international arrest warrant against him, as he was wanted in Poland on suspicion of drug dealing. He was extradited to Poland to face charges in May 2021.

Polish courts alleged that Azoulay was the head of a criminal organization that dealt with drug smuggling and money laundering; he faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Polish law enforcement officials earlier said that the money seized from his accounts was the largest amount ever confiscated from drug deals – nearly 1.5 billion Polish zlotys (NIS 1.2 billion, or over $350 million). 

On Thursday, after a year and a half of imprisonment, a Polish court ordered his release on restrictive conditions – including a ban on leaving Poland, a prohibition against contacting any other suspects involved in the case and a requirement to post a €1 million bail.

Polish and Israeli flags at a march next to Auschwitz in April (credit: REUTERS)Polish and Israeli flags at a march next to Auschwitz in April (credit: REUTERS)

Azoulay’s bail proceedings and subsequent release were complicated, as a district court in the city of Wroclaw ruled earlier this year that the funds seized are completely legal and do not belong to Azoulay at all, claiming instead that they belong to investors in a virtual currency exchange where they were traded.

However, the State Attorney's Office in Poland refuses to accept the court's decision, refusing to return the money and release Azoulay. "The court's decision is unfounded, completely wrong and we treat it as having no legal or factual basis," said prosecutor Tokasz Tbaczynski of the Polish Attorney General's Office.

"He is very excited," Azoulay’s defense attorneys told Walla. A source familiar with the conduct of law enforcement in Poland said the investigation appears to have ended in the absence of evidence to prosecute him, saying that "this interim situation will not last long; the contacts between the prosecution and the defense will probably continue in a sincere and serious attempt to reach an agreed solution."

"I congratulate the court in Poland and the decision it made ordering the release of Shali from detention," said Azoulay’s lawyer Nir Jaslowic. “It has been proven that he has nothing to do with the commission of the offenses attributed to him or the large sums of money seized by the prosecution in Poland without any justifiable reason to do so – just as we claimed in the first place.”