Thai King pardons Israeli who murdered ex-wife

Man who murdered ex-wife in Bangkok to return to Israel in 6 months; Interior minister denies involvement in securing pardon.

Eli Cohen covicted of wife's murder in Thailand 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Eli Cohen covicted of wife's murder in Thailand 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
Eight years after he was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his ex-wife Carol and dumping her dismembered body in a Bangkok river, Israeli Eli Cohen is set to be released from prison in six months following a pardon by the King of Thailand, the Foreign Ministry confirmed this week.
Carol’s family reacted to the news with outrage this week, and accused the Interior Ministry of involvement in the pardon, a charge Minister Eli Yishai has denied outright.
Carol’s mother, Rivka Amsalem, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that she heard the news about the pardon the night before, when she received a call from a Ma’ariv reporter – rather than from an Israeli official.
“It’s a very terrible feeling to know he’ll be released. How could it be that someone murders his ex-wife in such a brutal and terrible way, and then cuts her up and throws her into a river, can be pardoned?” Amsalem asked.
Amsalem said that on Tuesday Yishai’s spokesman contacted her personally, and denied reports that the interior minister pulled strings to secure Cohen’s release.
“There is still something fishy here; there are many other Israelis sitting in Thai prisons for drugs and they aren’t given pardons – but this person is? How does it make any sense?” Amsalem said.
Now that her daughter’s killer is set to be a free man and could very well return to Israel in May, Amsalem said, “I don’t want him in Israel, that’s my war now, to make sure he never comes back here. I want the country to help me fix this problem they caused.
“He [Cohen] has nothing to look for here [in Israel], he should spend the rest of his life in exile.”
In February 2004, Cohen bought a one-way ticket for his ex-wife and flew her out to Bangkok, saying he wanted to spend time with her in the city.
Within the first 24 hours after her arrival, Cohen murdered her in his hotel room and crammed her mutilated body into a suitcase that he threw into a city canal. Cohen then called the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok to report his wife missing, but was almost instantly tapped by police as the chief suspect.
Following reports that Yishai was involved in securing the pardon, the minister’s office sent out a statement on Tuesday denying the reports. The statement added, however, that Yishai has worked on behalf of young Israelis serving drug offenses in Thailand and India, to find a way for them to serve their sentences back in Israel where the conditions of detention are more humane.
“The minister has never knowingly worked for the sake of releasing a murderer, and if it turns out he was involved in such instances, it was a mistake and the instance must be checked. The minister believes that the place of a murderer – any murderer – is in prison for the rest of their lives,” the statement continued.
A press inquiry to the Thai Embassy in Israel went unanswered by Tuesday afternoon.