Rabat – Earlier reports about Morocco extraditing two Israeli mobsters to Israel are untrue, according to Israeli police. One of the criminals’ lawyers has also stated he is unaware of any legitimacy behind the “rumors.”
Sputnik News has rubbished earlier claims that Golan Avitan and Chiko Beit Adah, two criminals who had fled Israel, would be extradited to Israel via Spain. Micky Rosenberg, spokesman for Israel’s police force, told the Russian outlet he had not seen any information on the reported extradition.
Yaniv Segev, the Israeli lawyer of Golan Avitan similarly refuted the claims. He called the reporting “completely illogical,” saying he did not see avenues for Morocco to facilitate the transfer. The absence of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco would make extradition difficult from a legal and political perspective.
Golan Avitan is one of two Israeli mobsters accused of involvement in a forgery scheme in Morocco. He could not be eligible for extradition unless he had served his sentence in the North African country, according to Segev. Yet the lawyer did speculate on behind-the-scenes dealings between the two nations. “We all know that the two countries have direct connections also with regard to security issues,” he told Sputnik.
Avitan’s lawyer said that the move would not be logical from the perspective of international conventions on extradition processes. However, it could still happen, according to Segev, through practices he described as “not kosher.” The lawyer accused the Israeli government of engaging in such practices. It appeared he still suspects that a behind-the-scenes deal is plausible in the case of his client, saying, “unfortunately, this is what we still observe today in the case of my client.”
Middle East Eye fueled speculation in an October 13 article by framing a visit between Moroccan and Israeli security officials as “secret,” citing Israeli Channel 12.
Yet the shadowy extradition could still happen in the future, according to Golan’s lawyer: “After the trials and judgments in Morocco, this operation will surely take place since Rabat seems to be able to give in to Israeli pressure in this case.” He said Israeli officials want his client “at all cost” and that Israel is doing “everything possible to capture him.”
The Jerusalem Post, citing Israeli outlet Mako, reported on October 11 that an envoy of Moroccan security officials met with their counterparts in Israel to coordinate the extradition of Golan Avitan and Chiko (Moshe) Beit Adah.
Avitan and Beit Adah are members of organized crime families and fled Israel to Morocco to escape justice. In 2018, authorities charged Avitan with three counts of murder for his role in a 2003 bombing of a building in Tel Aviv. Beit Adah ran a forgery network in Morocco to help Israelis obtain Moroccan citizenship.
Moroccan police arrested both criminals in 2019. Mako quoted a law enforcement official as saying the Israeli prosecution will demand that Avitan receive three life sentences and deny any plea deal.
Observers would likely see an extradition as an underhanded dealing between the two nations amid a climate of suspicion over Israel’s ambitions to realize more normalization agreements.