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Soccer player released after 2 years in prison for deadly hit-and-run

Yitzhak Asefa, sentenced to three years for 2018 crash that killed 17-year-old Ari Nesher, is embraced by family and friends

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

An Israeli soccer player was released from prison on Sunday after serving two years of a three-year sentence for the 2018 hit-and-run death of a teen who was riding on an electric bike with a friend.

Yitzhak Asefa 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.

Asefa, who played for the Israel Premier League’s F.C. Ashdod team, was also ordered at the time to pay NIS 20,000 ($5,796) to the family of Ari Nesher, 17, who died following the accident, and another NIS 5,000 ($1,449) to the family of the other teenager who was riding the bike.

Last week, the Israel Prison Service’s Parole Board granted him 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’s family opposed Asefa’s early release.

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

Leaving Hermon Prison, Asefa was embraced by his family and friends.

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. His friend, whose name was not released, was also injured.

Asefa drove into the pair of teenagers and left them lying in the road before trying to cover up his involvement in the collision by repairing the damage to the car and lying to police.

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