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Soccer player jailed for deadly hit-and-run signs with team 10 days after release

Itzhak Asefa, convicted for 2018 crash that killed 17-year-old Ari Nesher, set to join Bnei Yehuda: ‘I know and understand that what happened cannot be undone’

Itzhak Asefa is seen with family and friends after his release from Hermon Prison on January 16, 2022.  (David Cohen/Flash90 )
Itzhak Asefa is seen with family and friends after his release from Hermon Prison on January 16, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90 )

An Israeli soccer player convicted over a 2018 deadly hit-and-run signed a new contract with a team on Wednesday, 10 days after being released from prison.

Itzhak Asefa caused the death of a teen who was riding on an electric bike with a friend, and was originally sentenced to 4.5 years behind bars in January 2020, but the Supreme Court later reduced his sentence on appeal to three years.

He was released earlier this month, after serving two years of the three-year sentence for the death of 17-year-old Ari Nesher.

On Wednesday Asefa signed with Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv F.C.

In a statement, Asefa thanked the club for its “trust and the opportunity to return and engage in what I know and love.”

“On the professional level I promise to do everything to justify the trust and give my all in training and every game,” he said.

“On a personal level, I know and understand that what happened cannot be undone, but I do intend to volunteer immediately in associations and organizations such as Or Yarok, in order to make a change and help in any way I can,” he added, referring to a road safety nonprofit group.

Director Avi Nesher (left), with his son, Ari and wife, Iris (Courtesy Rafi Delouya)

Asefa hit the pair of teenagers with his car and left them lying in the road, then tried to cover up his involvement in the collision by repairing the damage to the car and lying to police.

Earlier in January, the Israel Prison Service’s Parole Board granted Asefa early release, citing his good behavior.

In its decision, the board praised Asefa’s “positive behavior,” which it said demonstrated “responsibility, maturity, clear and stable internal boundaries, commitment to a future as a law-abiding member of society.”

Nesher, the son of acclaimed Israeli film director Avi Nesher, was seriously injured in the September 2018 accident and succumbed to his wounds four days later. Nesher’s family opposed Asefa’s early release.

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