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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tel Aviv lawyer indicted for ordering gangland-style hits

Gur Finkelstein indicted on 11 charges, allegedly commissioning Jaffa gang to carry out his bidding; Finkelstein allegedly attempted to murder his ex-wife's husband in attempt to gain custody of ex's 11-year-old son.
The Tel Aviv district court indicted attorney Gur Finkelstein on Thursday of 11 charges, including attempted murder, sabotage, attempted sabotage, causing damage with explosives, arson, conspiring to commit a crime and aggravated assault.

Gur Finkelstein, a lawyer who represents the Scientology Center in Israel, was arrested several weeks ago, but details of the investigation were released for publication only earlier this week.

Among the crimes Finkelstein has been linked to is the attempted murder in Haifa last November of Danny Cohen, the current husband of Finkelstein's ex-wife, in an apparent attempt to gain custody of his and his ex's 11-year-old son.

On November 21, a bomb that had been planted in Cohen's car went off, wounding Cohen and his 4-year-old daughter. According to the indictment, Finkelstein paid members of a Jaffa gang between 120 and 140 thousand NIS for assassination attempts on his ex's husband.
Finkelstein is also alleged to have commissioned a hit against Tel Aviv building inspector Shoter Hovel, after the latter had stopped work on construction for the Scientology sect that Finkelstein represented.

When Hovel came to inspect the building, he found that it exceeded its building permit by 1,000 square meters, and ordered work stopped and the excess construction demolished.

Finkelstein then allegedly commissioned Abdi Bakar and Ramzi Bakar of the same Jaffa gang to harm Hovel, offering the two 40 thousand NIS to "maim or cripple Hovel, or to cause him an injury so that he would take sick leave for a few months."

The two gang members allegedly received an initial installment of 25 thousand NIS, to prepare and execute the operation.

Hovel was not hurt in the attempted hit, and Finkelstein allegedly then paid the suspects the remaining 15 thousand NIS, after which he paid them to carry out another attack on the building inspector.

According to the indictment, Finkelstein offered the two an additional 50 thousand NIS to try and hurt Hovel again.

The indictment stated that the two Jaffa gang members purchased shirts that said "police" on them, and an electric stunner. On May 29 of last year the two allegedly stopped Hovel as he was leaving his office and attacked him. This attempt to harm the building inspector also failed, and Hovel was only lightly wounded.

Finkelstein also allegedly ordered the torching of the same Scientology building in an effort to generate new construction work, from which he was getting commissions from the building subcontractors he employed. According to the indictment he paid 60 thousand NIS to burn the building down.

The gang that carried out these assignments, most of them members of the Bakar family, is also being linked to two other murder attempts: of a senior sheikh of the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa, which they allegedly planned to use to frame rightists, and of businessman Eli Shakak. Finkelstein is apparently not connected to these assassination attempts.

Exposure in March of the plot against the sheikh and the subsequent arrest of five gang members emerged as the turning point in exposing Finkelstein's alleged crimes.

Under interrogation, one of the gang members turned state's witness and described various assignments he and his relatives had carried out for Finkelstein. Police were thus able to crack several cases that had eluded them for months.

Members of Finkelstein's law firm refused to comment on the allegations. A spokeswoman for the Scientology organization said that it was too early to respond to an ongoing legal proceeding, but stressed that "neither Gur, nor any of the other suspects, are members of the Scientology organization, period."

 

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