Dual citizen suspected of drug offenses remanded

Gavriel Barmi remanded into custody; plans to extradite him for alleged sexual, drug offenses committed against minors.

Jerusalem District Court_370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Jerusalem District Court_370
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday ordered Gavriel Barmi, both a Belgian and Israeli citizen, remanded to police custody until the end of the proceedings to extradite him to Belgium for alleged sexual and drug offenses committed against minors, when he lived there for an extended period. The ruling was announced on Tuesday.
Barmi was arrested in Israel on October 13, 2012, after Brussels submitted a request to Israel on May 26, 2011, to extradite him. On October 14, 2012, the international law division of the State Attorney’s Office submitted a petition to declare Barmi extraditable.
According to the petition, from 2002 to 2008, Barmi committed sexual offenses – including sodomy – against one of the minor victims, born in 1990, when he was aged from 12 to 18. It also alleges the same type of sexual offenses against a second minor during the years 2002-2006, when the minor was aged from 12 to 16.
Many of the offenses were committed after confusing and seducing the minors through the use of drugs and alcohol, said the petition.
Barmi’s actions would qualify as sexual crimes against minors and drug crimes, including pressing minors to use drugs, under Israeli law.
The defense admitted that there is sufficient evidence for most of the allegations regarding sexual relations between Barmi and the first minor, but said that there was a significant gap in the evidence proving that the acts were committed when the victim was still a minor.
In addition, the defense argued that evidence regarding the second minor was heavily lacking.
Besides noting evidentiary problems, the defense explained that Barmi had not fled Belgium, but had merely come to Israel to attend a family wedding – and was now staying on as he had ended a 15-year relationship with his partner in Belgium.
No complaints have been filed against Barmi since he has been in Israel, said the defense. The court found that there were no real gaps in the evidence regarding the first minor’s age. Simply because the defense pointed out that certain accusations did not come out until they were revealed in 2008, did not contradict the first minor’s statements that the sexual offenses began years earlier.
The court found that even though the second minor’s initial statements to investigators denied any sexual relations with Barmi, eventually he changed his story, saying he felt the need to tell the truth. He made clear and specific allegations against Barmi.
The court rejected the defense’s request for alternatives to police custody, citing the dangerous nature of his alleged crimes, and the fact that he had committed them against minors.
Further, Barmi had not visited Israel from 2000 to 2008, noted the court, finding that he only returned to Israel in October 2008, shortly after the allegations were revealed. Accordingly, the court held that Barmi had fled from Belgium and would be a flight-risk once again, if released from police custody.
The ruling said that the revelations of the alleged crimes began in 2008, when the first minor told his parents about his relations with Barmi. Subsequently, the minor’s parents confronted Barmi and said they would settle the matter quietly if he agreed to get psychological help and pay compensation, the court indicated. Barmi agreed to get psychological help, but never did, and never paid any compensation, according to the ruling.
Eventually, Barmi’s partner learned of the allegations, fought with him, and told the parents that, based on the advice of a lawyer’s, Barmi would not speak with them, the court noted.