Suspect in Ben-Or killing arrested

Policeman-turned-underworld assassin Tzahi Ben-Or killed in Mexico in 2004.

tzahi ben-or 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
tzahi ben-or 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Police arrested on Sunday night 23-year-old Eran Hiyat, a suspect in the December 2004 killing of policeman-turned-gangland assassin Tzahi Ben-Or in Cancun, Mexico, police revealed Monday. Hiyat, an American citizen, has been under police surveillance since he landed in Israel several days ago. He was taken for remand on Monday to the Petakh Tikva Magistrate's Court. Tzahi Ben-Or fled to Mexico in 2004 after police refused to make him a state's witness against the Perinian crime family. He survived a previous assassination attempt in 2002, after which he was hospitalized. Police have long suspected Hiyat's involvement in the Ben-Or murder, but were unable to lay their hands on him because he was overseas. Although police believe Hiyat was hired by the Perinian brothers Sharon and Oded to kill Ben-Or, Hiyat and his father are affiliated with the Mulner crime syndicate. Hiyat's father has served time in an American prison for connections to organized crime. According to police sources, Hiyat, who grew up in the United States, returned to Israel at the age of 16 with his father, at which point he became active in the Israeli criminal underworld. He is also a suspect in a number of other mob hits and murder attempts, although police sources say they have had trouble finding evidence against him. Allegations of police mishandling of the investigations of the 2004 murder of Ben-Or and the 1999 killing of underworld criminal Pinhas Buhbout were being examined in the Zeiler Commission, an investigative commission led by retired district court judge Vardi Zeiler. The commission has investigated several top-level law enforcement officials, including Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, Jerusalem District Cmdr. Ilan Franco and Southern District Attorney Iska Leibovitch. Dozens of witnesses have appeared before the committee, in both open-and closed-door sessions. The closed-door testimonies included that of "Mister X," a secret witness later revealed to be Dep.-Cmdr. Efraim Erlich.