Sagan sentenced to nine years for killing outside TA club

Victim’s family says sentence is too lenient; father of three was killed by single strike to the head with motorcycle helmet last year.

311_gavel (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Shai Sagan to nine years in prison Wednesday for the killing of Eli Ifergin during a fight last year outside a Tel Aviv nightclub.
In addition, the Tel Aviv District Court ordered Sagan to compensate the victim’s family with the sum of NIS 100,000.
According to the police report, Ifergin, a 36-year-old father of three from Ashdod, was attacked by Sagan in the early morning of October 8, 2010 outside nightclubs on Rehov Shabah in Tel Aviv. An altercation had broken out between Ifergin and a group of other men, including a friend of Sagan.
Sagan, who was nearby on his motorcycle, heard his friend shouting and ran to the scene of the fight, where he smashed Ifergin over the head with his motorcycle helmet.
Ifergin fell to the ground unconscious and with massive internal bleeding. He was rushed to Ichilov Hospital, but despite two emergency operations died without regaining consciousness.
In the trial, prosecuting attorney Safi Baraz spoke of the tragic death of a husband and father with a single blow from a motorcycle helmet.
Members of Ifergin’s family, including his widow Inbar, also testified before the court about the deceased’s good character.
Gali Tiram, Ifergin’s sister, told the court that Ifergin was a good man and a good father who lived life to the fullest, and cared for his family.
Sagan’s defense attorney, Eli Cohen, expressed sorrow for the tragic death of Ifergin and said that from the moment Sagan realized he had dealt a fatal blow to Ifergin, he felt remorse.
Cohen also told the court that Sagan had run to the scene of the fight in response to his friend’s shouts for help, and emphasized that the killing was not premeditated.
During his testimony in court, Sagan expressed regret and asked for forgiveness from Ifergin’s family for the suffering caused to them, and stated that he had no intention to kill.
In sentencing Sagan to nine years’ imprisonment, Judge David Rozen wrote in his report that: “It is important to emphasize that the defendant had not planned the attack, did not seek the death of the deceased, and immediately regretted the outcome. The defendant has expressed his deep sorrow. The defendant felt real remorse about the outcome.
“The uneasy state of mind to which the defendant is now in testifies to the depth of his grief and sorrow. It is important to note the defendant’s confession.
This confession is integrated with the request for forgiveness and repentance.”
Rozen also wrote that had Sagan not confessed to his guilt, he would have “deserved a far more severe punishment.”
After the judgement was passed, members of Ifergin’s family criticized what they said was a too lenient punishment.
Ifergin’s sister Gali Tiram told reporters that the nine-year jail sentence handed down to Sagan was “giving a hand to murderers.”
Immanuel Gross, professor of criminal law at the University of Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post that he did not think Judge Rozen’s sentence was too light, because the killing was not premeditated.
“The maximum term for manslaughter is 20 years,” said Gross. “The judge gave [Sagan] almost half of that. It was a tragic event, but [Sagan] did not deliberately set out to kill. It was a spontaneous act that occurred without thought for the outcome.”
Gross added that the debate over Sagan’s jail sentence highlights an important issue with Israel’s existing homicide laws.
“In Israel – unlike in the USA and other countries – there is no provision for first-degree or second-degree murder,” he noted. “If we had a law that did provide for these distinctions, it would allow judges more discretion in sentencing.”
Existing homicide laws provide for three categories of murder: negligent homicide, punishable by up to three years in prison; manslaughter, which includes unpremeditated killings, punishable by up to 20 years in jail; and murder, which incurs a mandatory life sentence.
Following the controversial judgement in the Tel Aviv District Court in April in the case of the killing of Aryeh Karp on the Tel Baruch beach in Tel Aviv – in which the judges ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove the killing was premeditated – a panel of legal experts submitted recommendations for changes to the criminal statutes to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
The panel, headed by Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recommended that the criminal statutes provide for two murder charges: premeditated murder, which would carry a maximum life sentence penalty; and murder under aggravated circumstances.
According to Gross, the recommendations are currently being examined by the Justice Ministry.
If accepted, the recommendations will then go forward to the Ministerial Committee, and then to a first reading in Knesset.
“There is a huge consensus among attorneys – and even the public – that the time has come to change the law,” said Gross.