The Beersheba District Court on Sunday sentenced Petah Tikva resident Eduard Gelfond, 44, to eight years in prison on a manslaughter conviction over an incident in 2008, during which a tourist bus driven by Gelfond plunged off a cliff, killing 24 and injuring more than 25.
Gelfond, in addition to the prison time, was sentenced to two years’ probation and will be forbidden from holding a drivers licence for 25 years.
The prosecution had originally sought a 15-year jail term.
In 2008, Gelfond, then working as a tour bus operator, was driving a group of newly arrived Russian tour guides from Ovda airport to Eilat when he attempted to overtake two other tour buses at high speed on a windy road.
During the maneuver, Gelfond lost control of the vehicle, which crashed through a railing and rolled into a 60-meter-deep ditch.
In its ruling, the court said Gelfond was a professional driver who was aware of the potential consequences of such a dangerous move.
They found that Gelfond took an “unreasonable risk” in passing the other buses and noted that he was traveling at 98 kilometers (61 miles) per hour, 18 kph (11 miles) above the speed limit.