Israeli surgeon Dr. Michael Zis, who was arrested 18 months ago in Ukraine on suspicion of organ trafficking and sentenced to jail for performing illegal organ transplants, will be extradited to Israel, Ukrainian media reported Monday.
Jerusalem and Kiev have an extradition treaty and according to reports, Zis will remain in custody pending his transfer to Israel.
The Justice Ministry refused to comment on the status of the extradition request or on what legal fate awaits Zis once he arrives in Israel.
The Zis case dates back to 2007, when Israeli authorities tried and convicted two residents of Haifa, Muhammad Taha Jat, also knows as John Allen, and Hassan Zahalka, for soliciting four people to illegally donate their kidneys for a NIS 7,000 payment (about $1,800).
The two targeted people from a low socioeconomic background, manipulated them into the procedure and arranged for them to fly to Ukraine, where Zis operated on them for a fee of about $125,000. Upon returning to Israel, the four discovered that they were swindled.
Zis was arrested in early 2008. The Ukrainian authorities sought to charge him with organ trafficking, but following an 18-month investigation, the charges were amended to breaking the transplant law.
According to the prosecution, the eventual decision to commute his sentence stemmed from the fact that his offenses were "relatively mild."
Zis never admitted any wrongdoing. His attorney told the Ukrainian media that his health has deteriorated during his time in jail.
The surgeon is still in custody even tough the Kiev court agreed to release him. Should his extradition to Israel be delayed much further, he would be able to sue the local authorities for unjustified incarceration.
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report