An Israeli man was arrested last week in Germany after Interpol issued an international arrest warrant against him over a suspected murder in Belarus 25 years ago, Hebrew-language media reported Thursday.
If extradited to Belarus, Levitt could face the death penalty.
The suspect, 46-year-old Alan Levitt from the central Israeli town of Bat Yam, landed at Frankfurt airport for a vacation with his 12-year-old son when police officers arrested him, according to his lawyer, Gregory Kurziner.
Levitt immigrated to Israel from Belarus in 1991. A decade ago, Belarusian investigators arrived at his home and questioned him over a brutal murder that occurred in Minsk in 1993. He denied any involvement.
According to Kurziner, the investigators suspected Levitt had traveled to Belarus with another person, and that both had broken into a home, robbed its owner and murdered him.
The Interpol warrant — issued two years ago at Belarus’s request — said a man was murdered in his Minsk apartment on March 16, 1993 after being robbed by two people. He was stabbed 16 times in his face and neck. The warrant explicitly stated the maximum punishment for the offense was the death penalty.
Belarus is the last European country that still executes convicts of crimes that aren’t war crimes. Seven people have been executed in the country in the last two years, according to Kurziner. There is no statute of limitation for murder in the country.
As a policy, Israel does not extradite suspects to countries that have the death penalty, Kurziner said.
The lawyer told the Walla news site that Levitt hadn’t heard from the Belarusian investigators since the first round of questioning and had assumed it was all behind him.
“He was very surprised by his arrest while on vacation with his son, and by the way they were forcefully separated,” Kurziner said, adding that he was being held in difficult conditions. “He is worried about his legal status and understands his life is in real danger.
“Even though he doesn’t have any information on the case in which he is being accused, he is worried about anti-Semitism in Minsk and fears for his life.”
Kurziner said he had contacted Israel’s Foreign Ministry and asked it to intervene, prevent Levitt’s extradition and potentially bring him to face the charges in Israel. The ministry confirmed it was aware of the case, and added that the consulate in Munich was in contact with Levitt and his lawyer.