Greece frees Israeli arrested on ‘mistaken’ Interpol warrant, but he can’t leave yet

Dudi Ashkenazi ordered to stay on island of Rhodes until final decision; Israel says Peru’s international arrest warrant for drug offenses misidentified him as the culprit

Dudi Ashkenazi, an Israeli citizen arrested while vacationing with his wife Racheli on Kos Island, Greece. (Courtesy)
Dudi Ashkenazi, an Israeli citizen arrested while vacationing with his wife Racheli on Kos Island, Greece. (Courtesy)

A Greek court freed an Israeli man from jail Tuesday after he was held for 14 days on what Israel claims is a mistaken Interpol warrant.

The local court ordered Dudi Ashkenazi to remain on Rhodes island until a final decision is made on the matter.

Ashkenazi, 52, was vacationing in Greece when he was arrested two weeks ago on an Interpol warrant for a dual Israeli-Azerbaijani citizen also named Dudi Ashkenazi, who allegedly trafficked drugs between Peru and Russia in 2012. He was held on the Greek island of Kos until the court hearing that granted his partial release.

Walla news reported Tuesday that a salary slip from the same month Ashkenazi was said to have committed the crimes showed he was in Israel working as a driver for the Dan bus company.

Friends and family have opened an online donation campaign to raise the funds needed to cover Ashkenazi’s legal fees (Hebrew link). By Tuesday, 467 people had donated NIS 106,604 ($30,275), with the goal set at NIS 150,000.

The release came after his attorney Nir Yaslovitzh said on Friday that he’d presented documents to Greek Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras and Attorney General Vasilias Milanunis that proved Ashkenazi is not the suspect wanted by Interpol and police in Peru.

Ashkenazi, his family and the Israeli government maintain that he did not commit the crimes. He has said that he was celebrating his daughter’s bat mitzvah at the time of the alleged crimes and was not in Peru, Channel 12 news reported last week.

His wife has said he does not hold Azerbaijani citizenship.

According to Channel 12, Israeli police told Interpol they believe Greece has arrested the wrong man after discovering that the warrant contains the identification number of another individual with the same name.

An image of the suspect wanted by Interpol for drug-related offenses in Lima, Peru, on June 16, 2012. (Courtesy)

At a hearing in Rhodes last Monday, Greek prosecutors did not explicitly reject Ashkenazi’s claim but said they wanted to investigate further, the Ynet news site said at the time.

That same day, the Foreign Ministry contacted the Greek foreign ministry after the photo attached to the warrant was released, saying his arrest was likely a result of misidentification.

Yaslovitzh has reportedly sent Greek officials an additional corroborative letter from the Foreign Ministry incorporating updated information from Israeli authorities and Interpol.

Yair Lapid, at the time Israel’s foreign minister and since last week the prime minister, spoke with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias last Wednesday and requested Ashkenazi’s immediate release.

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