Former IDF chief of staff bodyguard Captain Erez Efrati, who was indicted on various sexual assault charges, struck a plea bargain Tuesday.
The Tel Aviv district Court approved the plea; and the victim's testimony, which was set to be heard Tuesday, will no longer be heard in court.
Efrati came to the hearing Tuesday unaccompanied by his fiancée, Vered Eli, for the first time. The plaintiff, who arrived accompanied by members of her family, appeared anxious and cried in court. Her parents stood at her side and supported her.
Efrati stood and said he had read the indictment and admitted to his guilt.
Efrati (R) in court (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
According to information obtained by Ynet, the original charge of attempted rape was dropped from the revised indictment. The count of attempted sodomy was left on the indictment, but according to the plea, aggravating circumstances will no longer be applied to it.
Despite the changes to the indictments, the charges against Efrati still carry a maximum sentence of 16 years in jail. Had the prosecution insisted on keeping the original "aggravating circumstances" reference, the maximum sentence would have been 20 years.
The plaintiff, who reportedly deliberated a long time before accepting the plea bargain, was told by the prosecution that agreeing to the plea would deliver "the best results she could hope for."
According to the plea bargain, the prosecution agrees that Efrati was in a state of drunkenness at the time. The defense had previously claimed that he could not be held responsible for his actions, as he was suffering from alcohol poisoning.
Sources in the prosecution clarified Tuesday that only small changes had been made to the indictment. They also said that if no agreement had been reached it would have been necessary to bring dozens of witnesses and the case would have dragged on for months.
In the original indictment, the prosecution detailed the events of that November night. At 4:45 am, Efrati followed the young woman in the port area of Tel Aviv. Before she reached her vehicle, he dragged her towards the banks of the Yarkon River. She screamed and pleaded that he would leave her alone, but he continued to pull her, covering her mouth and threatening that if she screamed he would kill her, according to the indictment.
He dragged her among the bushes growing on the banks, where he attempted sodomy as she cried out for help. He hit her, blurring her senses, and continued his acts. Passersby arrived at the scene, and Efrati tried to escape by leaping into the river and hiding among the bushes on the opposite bank until he was caught by the police.
As a result of his acts, according to the indictment, the young woman suffered serious bruising and subcutaneous bleeding, abrasions to her face, scratches on her neck, and various wounds to her palms, hips and knees. The man who came to her assistance also suffered bruising.