Alleged rapist found dead in his prison cell in central Israel

Attorney for the suspect, an ex-IDF officer who was once honored by the president for his service, says he saw no indication the prisoner would take his own life

View of the Rimonim prison on August 26, 2014. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
View of the Rimonim prison on August 26, 2014. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

An alleged sex offender was found dead in his prison cell in Rimonim Prison next to Tel Mond, apparently after taking his own life.

The 25-year-old man was found unconscious in his cell, according to a statement from the Israel Prisons Service. Wardens called an ambulance, but after unsuccessful attempts to revive him, he was pronounced dead at the scene, the IPS said. It said the incident will be investigated.

The IPS identified the man only as a suspected sex offender who had been arrested in December 2019. But Hebrew media reports named him as Fante Tarafa, an ex-IDF officer in the Paratroopers Brigade who was awarded a certificate of excellence for his service by then-president Reuven Rivlin in 2017.

Tarafa, who immigrated to Israel as a child from Ethiopia and settled in Bat Yam, was arrested in 2019 and indicted in January 2020 on charges of raping and sexually assaulting three women as they were out walking late at night in Bat Yam.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Tarafa’s attorneys reached a deal with prosecutors last week in which he would plead guilty to some of the charges as part of a larger deal. It was not clear what type of sentence he was facing following conviction.

Former IDF officer Fanta Tarafa (IDF)

Hebrew media reports on Sunday indicated that Tarafa took his own life in his jail cell.

Tarafa’s attorney, Adi Avinoam, told Walla News that he had met recently with his client and did not suspect he would attempt to kill himself. “There was no sign that he might harm himself… his family and I are in total shock.”

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