By James Brewster
June 25, 2009
A convicted sex offender who fled Israel before he could be jailed told judges this week that he didn't want to be sent home — because he feared a nuclear attack by Iran.
Strictly Orthodox Nachman Stal, 39, left Israel in May 2006 after he was found guilty at a Tel Aviv court of sodomy and indecent assault of a minor.
The married father-of-nine, who prayed in the High Court last Friday as he challenged his extradition, had been accused of assaulting the youth in his car in Tel Aviv in 1998.
After hiding in Stamford Hill, north London, he was recaptured by British police in May last year as he changed a car tyre on the A40 in west London.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith later authorised his extradition. On Friday his appeal was rejected by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie.
Stal told the judges he feared being hurt if his Israeli jail was hit in a rocket attack — or if the country itself was attacked by Iran.
"As long as the state of Israel is threatened with an atomic bomb, one shouldn't extradite a person to that country," he told the judges.
"There's no country in the world that has so many enemies and has suffered so many wars and acts of terror."
Stal also claimed that the Israeli government's purpose in taking him back was not in the interests of justice, but as an act of vengeance because he had refused to "lie" and admit to something he did not do and had, instead, absconded.
And, in the absence of segregation for sex offenders, he was scared of being tortured by fellow inmates if he were sent to Israel to serve his punishment, he said.
"I ask and beseech the honourable court, do not cast me to the dogs, to the hands of other prisoners in Israel," he said, after complaining of beatings he claimed to have suffered while in custody years ago.
"They are very likely to treat me like a vessel that can just be broken, both spiritually and physically."
But Mr Justice Wilkie said reports on the state of Israeli prisons suggested that at-risk prisoners could, indeed, be segregated if required, for their safety.
It was "obvious" that, when an offender convicted of a serious offence went on the run, authorities would take great steps in order to bring them to justice, he added.
It was "inconceivable" that a country like Israel, with its heavy concern for the safety of its citizens, would not have appropriate plans to safeguard those in its care.
Stal's appeal was dismissed and he will now be sent to Israel.