defrauded millions of dollars

7 defendants in 'Nigerian Sting' case to be extradited to US

Suspects are accused of defrauding elderly US citizens out of millions of dollars. Their attorneys call court's decision 'unreasonable', say they will file an appeal

Seven Israeli citizens, who were involved in the worldwide lottery scam, dubbed the "Nigerian Sting" will be extradited to the United States, according to a Jerusalem District Court ruling Wednesday.


The seven are accused of defrauding elderly US citizens out of millions of dollars.


Following the extradition decision, prosecution representative, Attorney Tal Werner-Kling, requested three of the defendants be detained in order to prevent them from fleeing the country. Two other defendants willfully agreed to be extradited and their cases were not discussed in court.


Justice Nava Ben-Or rejected the defendants' claims, according to which most of the investigation was conducted in Israel, and therefore they should stand trial in Israel rather than in the United States.


According to Ben-Or, the investigation in Israel began following an un-official request made on behalf of the FBI, and that US law enforcement officials were conducting simultaneous investigations. Ben-Or added that the crimes ascribed to the defendants are directly connected to the United States, therefore their physical location at the time of committing the acts has no practical significance.


"Undoubtedly this is a weighty consideration, especially due to the defendants' deep-rooted affinity. However, the defendants deceived many American citizens, therefore subjecting themselves to the American justice system."


'No connection to Tannenbaum'

Justice Ben-Or also rejected claims according to which an Israeli citizen must stand trial in his own country, asking that conclusions be drawn from the case of Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman who was kidnapped by Hezbollah after being lured out of Israel under the false pretenses of a drug deal, and later arrested by Israeli law enforcement for his illegal actions prior to his capture.


"Tannenbaum brought trouble upon himself, and the State of Israel came to his rescue, while paying a heavy price," said Ben-Or, adding that "Tannenbaum was held by a terror organization which disregards human rights, while the extradition of the seven individuals to the United States is an extradition to a law-abiding country."


Attorney Sharon Nahari, who represents the two main suspects, said, "We will file an appeal, and believe it, because they were supposed to stand trial in Israel according to the prosecution's preliminary decision."


The nine, who were arrested last September, were charged in the United States and might face a jail term of up 20 years for each offence if convicted.


The other defendants' attorneys regretted the court's decision, saying that "it is a shame that judiciary considerations were made instead of national and political considerations. We are planning to file for an appeal. We believe this decision is unreasonable, especially due to the fact it will affect all twenty people involved in the case."


The prosecution, on the other hand, expressed content with the decision. "We are very happy with the decision. It is a clear statement that determines Israeli citizens cannot defraud citizens of other countries and go unpunished," said attorney Tal Werner-Kling.


The prosecution claimed the suspects operated out of offices in Ramat Gan and allegedly defrauded elderly American citizens, who had been led to believe they had won the lottery, of millions of dollars.


פרסום ראשון: 10.21.09, 13:41
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