Assi Abutbul guilty of heading crime group

Mob boss convicted of eight out of 18 charges; 20 other members of his organization also found guilty.

asi abutbul 224 (photo credit: Channel 10)
asi abutbul 224
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday convicted underworld figure Assi Abutbul and four of his henchmen of violating the Fight Against Organized Crime Law, which carries particularly stiff punishments. Abutbul stands to be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail on this charge alone. He was also convicted of a long list of violations of the Criminal Law and the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law, which means that the court could double the sentence for violating the organized crime law. The other four who were convicted of violating the organized crime law were Albert Sitbon, Barak Bofman, David Zuaretz and Gabriel Assor. Sitbon and Assor were charged with being senior managers of the organized crime gang headed by Abutbul. Eight other defendants in the indictment were convicted of violations of the Penal Law. The charges included in the indictment included more than 20 instances of extortion and threats against Israeli businessmen and new immigrants from France. The arguments before sentencing will be heard on June 14-18, and the sentences are due to be given before the end of the month. Thursday's decision was was handed down by Judges Bracha Ofir-Tom, Miriam Sokolov and David Rozen. Abutbul was originally represented by Attorney Yoram Chacham, who was mysteriously killed by a bomb planted in his car on June 11, 2008. He was eventually replaced by Nir Plesser and Ya'ir Regev. Plesser told The Jerusalem Post he would appeal Abutbul's conviction to the Supreme Court. During the trial, the attorney argued that Abutbul should not have been charged with belonging to a crime organization because at the same time he was charged with participating in the criminal acts themselves. According to Plesser, this "double" indictment for the same crime was a misuse of the Fight against Organized Crime Law, which was intended to deal with situations in which the crime bosses were not directly involved in the criminal activities and there was no proof that they had given the orders for the crimes to be committed. But the judges rejected the argument. "At the end of the day," they wrote, "we had no choice but to reach the conclusion that we were dealing with a crime organization, with all of the implications involved in the definition of this problematic term. "For it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that we have here a hierarchical organization the goals of which were defined and the activities of which were deliberate, and in which all that was done by its members was based on orders from above, with perfect order and discipline which no one challenged. "The clear impression that we get when looking at the entire picture is one of uncompromising criminal activity which took place in what seems like a 'no man's land,' wherein those who perpetrated it were not afraid of the police."