Israeli court to examine state’s unreciprocated extradition policy to France


(JTA) — Israel’s High Court of Justice is slated to examine whether the government may extradite its citizens to France despite that country’s refusal to deliver suspects to Israel.

The review is part of a petition recently submitted to the court by the lawyer of a French-born Israeli, Thiery Chemla, who has been sentenced to 20 years of prison n France for homicide. The petition is for an injunction against the Israeli justice ministry’s decision to extradite Chemla, the news site reported on Wednesday.

Chemla’s lawyer, Nechama Tzivin, said extraditing Chemla would contradict international norms of reciprocity because France does not extradite French nationals to Israel.

She also wrote that extraditing Chemla to France would put his life in danger because “anti-Semitism in France, and mainly among Muslims, is increasing and has caused casualties.” French Muslim prisoners “constitute a real danger to Chemla, who is not only Jewish but also Israeli,” Tzivin wrote.

On Friday, the SPCJ security unit of France’s Jewish  communities said that is had documented 169 anti-Semitic incidents in the first four months of 2014 — a 44-percent increase over the number of acts recorded in the corresponding period last year. Violent incidents saw an increase of 554 percent and threats rose by 41 percent, SPCJ said in a statement.

In her petition, Tzivin noted the case of Lee Zeitouni, a fitness instructor who died in Tel Aviv in 2011 after she was hit by a black SUV driven by Claude Isaac Khayat and Eric Roubi, two French Jews who are believed to have flown back to France shortly after the accident to avoid standing trial. French prosecutors said last year they would indict them, but have refused extradition requests by Israel.

Under French law, French citizens may be extradited only to European Union member states.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni recently signed a directive authorizing the extradition of Chemla, who immigrated to Israel after the death of a woman in a fire he started in Marseille in 2002.

Chemla and an employee burned down two shoe stores he owned in order to collect insurance to pay off debts, according to his conviction in France.

The fire that killed the woman, a tenant who lived in an apartment located above one of Chemla’s shoe stores, was caused by an explosion that put Chemla in the hospital for two months. He immigrated to Israel a year later, while French authorities were looking into the case.

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