Former IAF officer charged with Sderot man's murder

A former air force intelligence officer was charged on Sunday with murdering his business partner in what police say was a cold-blooded and premeditated killing. Police cited a letter recovered from the suspect's car, as well as a series of meticulous attempts to evade suspicion, as proof that the slaying had been planned well in advance. On November 14, Shimon Pinto, a 35-year-old father of two from Sderot, was reported missing by his sister. Police investigators suspected that Pinto's partner in his renovation business - Eliav Dagon, 40, of Haifa, who has no criminal record - was linked to the disappearance. Dagon confessed to killing Pinto during a police interrogation on November 11, but claimed the killing had been accidental, the result of a bullet being discharged from his gun without his intent. On November 17, Dagon was arrested and led officers to Pinto's body in Shoham's Industrial Zone. The officers recovered the partially covered, decomposing corpse. At that stage, the Central Police District's Central Unit assembled a special investigation team to look into the murder. The team found a letter in Dagon's car that "points to the suspect's intention to murder the victim following a financial dispute," police said. "What could I do other than than a gun to the... head of the debtor and [to] demand payment right now?" the letter read. Police said the letter "completely contradicts the suspect's account of an accidental firing of a bullet and proves beyond doubt that the suspect murdered the deceased in a premeditated and precise fashion." According to investigators, Dagon prepared a gun in advance, cleaned it and replaced the old ammunition before luring his victim to the scene of the crime, where he fired a single bullet at Pinto's head and buried him. Police accused Dagon of removing Pinto's ID card from the body, along with money and other documents to prevent identification; hiding the murder weapon at his mother's home; cleaning out his car and destroying his clothes; and offering assistance to the victim's family in tracking Pinto down. Another attempt to evade suspicion involved sending text messages to the victim's cellphone after his death, police said. Dagon was indicted at the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday.