Entertainer Dudu Topaz committed suicide in his cell, the Israeli Prison Service said Thursday.
Topaz hanged himself in his prison cell. Magen David Adom emergency services paramedics called to the scene attempted to revive the 62-year-old, but had no choice but to pronounce him dead at the scene.
Topaz's body was transferred to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine.
This was Topaz's second suicide attempt: Shortly after being arrested he attempted suicide by injecting himself with an overdose of insulin. Topaz, who is a diabetic, was allowed to have insulin with him in his cell.
Following the first attempt, Topaz was placed in a cell with five other inmates, decreasing the chances he would be left alone. The cell was also monitored by cameras. Nevertheless, the cell's bathroom did not have cameras in it, to allow the inmates some privacy.
According to initial details Topaz was fine during the guards' routine morning rounds, held at 7am. About 10 minutes after the guards left the cell he was found hanged in the shower. He apparently used a electric cable to hang himself.
Topaz was held at the Nitzan Detention Center in Ramla while undergoing trial for multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and aggravated assault against various TV executives and leading Israeli entertainers, including top TV executives Avi Nir and Shira Margalit of Channel 2's Keshet and Reshet TV (respectively), famed television figures Tzvika Hadar, Erez Tal and Avri Gilad and several other industry figures.
'Preventing such cases is difficult'
Prison Commissioner Chief-Warden Benny Kaniak named a special committee of inquiry to probe the circumstances of the suicide. The police have launched an investigation as well.
The Central District Police requested an investigating magistrate be appointed to look into the circumstances of the entertainer's death. Thursday afternoon Commander Avi Mantzur, of the Central District Police's investigating unit filed the request at the Ramla courthouse. The request was granted by Judge Hagai Tarsi.
The judge also approved Mantzur's request to question the guards and prisoners who witnessed the incident, and the seizure of the objects found at the scene, such as the electric cable and Topaz's medical bag.
The request to conduct an autopsy on the entertainer's body, which was supported by his brother Miki Goldenberg, was also approved, and is slated to take place in the coming hours.
Topaz's body taken to Abu Kabir Forensic Institute (Photo: Avi Mualem)
An IPS source told Ynet that Topaz's suicide came as a shock to the service and is regarded as a blatant failure: "The writing was on the wall, in flaming letters. It is unclear how, with everyone so aware of the danger, he was still able to take his own life."
During former Prison Commissioner Yaakov Ganot's term in office, the IPS noted about two inmate suicides a year.
Over the past few years, however, the number of inmates taking their own lives has risen. Topaz's case is likely to prompt a review of IPS procedures, and while Prison Service personnel told Ynet that "if an inmate is adamant about suicide than preventing it is nearly impossible," the case may even cloud Chief-Warden Kaniak's future in the police force.
Kaniak was named IPS commission after losing the post of chief of police to Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen. His nomination as IPS head was slammed as a political appointment, but he has recently been shortlisted for the position of police chief once again.
While some in the Prison Service said that Topaz' death was "a blow" which may impede Kaniak's career, a senior source in the service estimated that the incident will result in more than a reprimand to the cellblock warden and possibly to the prison warden.
MK Yoel Hasson, chairman of the Knesset's State Control Committee said he would ask State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to probe the IPS' conduct in respect to Topaz's suicide.
"This was gross negligence. Topaz attempted suicide just two months ago. This inquest cannot be left to the Prison Service alone," he said.
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report