Supreme Court takes two years off crime boss's sentence

Tira-based crime boss Marwan Nasser's sentence reduced from 15 to 13 years.

Crime Scene 300 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Crime Scene 300
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
The Supreme Court on Wednesday reduced the prison sentence of Tira-based crime boss Marwan Nasser from 15 to 13 years. The court also reduced the sentences of his two co-appellants, gang members Shadi Nasser and Avi Alon. Nasser’s sentence was cut from 10 to nine years and Alon’s from nine to seven years.
Significantly, in their judgement, the three justices – Asher Dan Grunis, Yoram Danziger and Yitzhak Amit – issued a stern warning to police, saying that leaking information to the media about cases pending trial could lead to evidence being disqualified.
The court’s censure came in response to a complaint by Nasser’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, over an interview police gave to Channel 2 in 2007, when the case was pending trial. In that interview, police officers talked openly about the case.
Nasser, Shadi and Alon were convicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in 2008 of membership in an organized crime ring, moneylaundering and racketeering, in a case that made legal history in which judges used the 2003 Anti-Organized Crime Law to impose stiff prison sentences on Nasser and his fellow gang members. That law empowers courts to impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years for membership in an organized crime ring.
Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling is significant, because it partly amends that precedent- setting ruling. The three justices accepted the defense’s position that the court should take into account the fact that the main offenses attributed to all three appellants had taken place before the Anti-Organized Crime Law came into effect.
The district court sentenced Nasser to 15 years in prison, and ordered him to pay a fine of NIS 3 million or spend another three years in prison. His sentence, which goes above the maximum 10 years allowed by the anti-organized crime law, takes into account the conviction of multiple changes against him. The district court said that the fine was intended to impact the organized crime ring’s finances.
His co-defendants, senior gang members Shadi Nasser and Avi Alon, also received harsh sentences. Shadi – who, like Marwan, is from Tira – was sentenced to 10 years in prison and given a fine of NIS 1m. Alon, a Kfar Saba resident, was sentenced to nine years in prison and also fined NIS 1m.
However, in the Supreme Court appeal, Nasser’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, argued that Nasser’s sentence should be reduced on the grounds that the charges against them related to events that had taken place before the legislation was passed. Feldman, who also represents former president Moshe Katsav, argued that the district court’s precedent- setting use of anti-organized crime legislation had led to judges imposing a harsher sentence than in previous cases.
All three appellants argued against their conviction on money-laundering charges on the grounds that the relevant legislation, the Money-Laundering Law, was passed after they carried out their offenses, so they were not aware their actions were criminal.