For the past four months, the Manhattan Criminal Court has been hearing the case of Jonathan Maimon, 24, a Defense Ministry employee working at the Israeli Consulate General in New York and the son of former Cabinet secretary Israel Maimon and judge Nitsa Maimon-Sha'ashua, who is accused of attempting to murder Ma’or Vanunu in New York City. Exclusive footage obtained by Ynet shows the full extent of the violent assault for the first time.
However, lingering questions surround the case that has shaken the Israeli community in the Big Apple. What drove Maimon to carry out such a brutal attack outside a nightclub in SoHo that night? Why did he specifically single out Vanunu, with whom he had no prior acquaintance? And what precisely happened inside the club just moments before?
According to the indictment, the incident took place on February 26, during which Maimon allegedly attacked Vanunu with a glass bottle and caused him to have a brain hemorrhage. The suspect is also accused of breaking the window of a passing taxi before charging at Vanunu.
Footage from the event shows Maimon shirtless in the cold New York weather and holding the broken bottle in his hand. He lunges toward the victim when his back is turned, smashes the glass bottle on his body, and as he falls onto the sidewalk, he relentlessly strikes him with the shattered bottle six more times.
Charge reduced from attempted murder to assault?
In other previous footage, Maimon can be seen standing outside the nightclub engaging in a heated argument with the bouncers, while Vanunu passes by him. They exchange glances for a moment, and then Maimon grabs the bottle and repeatedly strikes Vanunu with it.
Maimon initially claimed he had been drugged inside the club but provided no evidence to support his claim. He turned himself to law enforcement only days after the incident, and there was no trace of drugs left in his body, if indeed there were any.
Maimon was released on bail and according to Defense Ministry, under which he had been employed at the Israeli mission, he "is on leave until the legal situation is clarified." If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.
The next hearing in his case is scheduled for August 11, and until then, Maimon is allowed to remain free. After the attack, he even visited his mother in Israel. The lawsuit is setting the grounds for the possibility that the charge may be reduced from attempted murder to aggravated assault, as Maimon has no prior criminal record. This could potentially allow him to avoid being jailed in America.
Character witness letter from the former consul
If this scenario comes to fruition, it will be another blow to the victim, Vanunu, who still suffers from physical injuries and psychological distress as a result of the incident. He has filed a civil lawsuit against Maimon.
Israel's former Consul General in New York Asaf Zamir wrote a character witness letter that Maimon's lawyer intended to present as part of their client's defense. Vanunu was incensed upon learning about Zamir's letter. “When a serving consul supports a person who tried to murder, it’s a badge of shame on the State of Israel and a disgrace to us all,” he said.
“It’s irrelevant if this is his first violent incident, although it is clear that a normal person does not behave this way. It is obvious that this letter was only written because his father is connected. It is inappropriate and illogical. This is the reason why our government looks the way it looks. A government that backs criminals, is it a surprise it is also trying to protect the criminals within it?
Zamir did not serve as Maimon's supervisor and acted against Foreign Ministry guidelines, which stipulate that an Israeli representative must not interfere in a foreign country's legal process. Zamir and Maimon's father have a close working relationship, and he responded to the latter's request to submit a letter to the court.