Another day, another crime

June 16, 2010

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Israel Against Extradition of Suspected Mossad Agent to Germany

The arrest in Poland of a suspected Mossad agent is threatening to cause a diplomatic tug-of-war between Israel, Poland, Germany and Dubai. The man was arrested in connection with an investigation into the assassination of a leading Hamas figure in a Dubai hotel in January.

Israel is urging Poland not to extradite to Germany a suspected Mossad agent arrested at Warsaw airport on June 4 on suspicion of being involved in the assassination of a leading figure of Hamas in Dubai in January.

The man was arrested by Polish border guards at the airport as he was trying to enter the country. He is wanted by German authorities for allegedly helping to obtain a German passport used by one of the members of the hit team that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founder of the military arm of the Islamist Hamas movement, in a Dubai hotel on January 19.

Germany has applied for the man to be extradited to Germany but members of the Israeli cabinet say he should be repatriated to Israel instead.

"Israel must resist the extradition of one of its citizens to a third country and use all means to make sure that he returns to his home country," said Transport Minister Israel Katz, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said Israel had a functioning legal system and was perfectly able to check the accusations against the man itself. "I’d like to remind people that Poland is not part of Germany and takes its decisions completely independently," said Misezhnikov, a member of the ultranationalist party "Israel is Our Home."

Suspect Accused of Helping to Obtain German Passport

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel is worried that the arrested man may end up being put on trial in the United Arab Emirates. Haaretz reported that Warsaw felt caught in an awkward position because it has very good relations with Israel.

According to SPIEGEL, the Israeli citizen had tried to enter Poland with a passport under the name Uri Brodsky. He is alleged to have been involved in the logistical preparations for the al-Mabhouh killing and German investigators had issued an arrest warrant for him via Interpol.

Investigators believe the arrested man accompanied a further suspected Mossad agent who applied for a German passport under the name Michael Bodenheimer at a registry office in Cologne in early 2009. That passport was used by one of the more than 20 alleged assassins who travelled to Dubai to carry out the hit.

The arrest in Poland looks set to further increase diplomatic tensions after Israel drew international condemnation for allegedly using passports from western nations. Police in Dubai are seeking at least 26 people they suspect of involvement in the assassination. Al-Mabhouh was drugged and then suffocated in his hotel room. Twelve British, six Irish, four French, one German and three Australian passports were used by people believed to be linked to the murder, according to the Dubai police. The UK and Australia responded by expelling Mossad representatives.

Brother Wants Extradition to Dubai

Al-Mabhouh’s family demanded on Sunday that Brodsky be extradited to Dubai and be put on trial there. "We call on all countries whose passports were forged and used for the murder of my brother to extradite these criminals to the police in Dubai so that they can be convicted there," the brother of al-Mabhouh, Hussein al-Mabhouh, told German news agency dpa on Sunday.

The authorities in Dubai have also expressed an interest in the arrested man. The newspaper Gulf News reported on its website that Dubai investigators had already been in touch with authorities in Poland and Germany. The newspaper said Dubai may apply for him to be extradited there.

With reporting by SPIEGEL Staff