Two suspects in the brutal killing of a man at the beginning of the year were extradited from Russia and arrested as soon as they landed in the country on Thursday, Israel Police said in a statement.
The pair, aged 18 and 16, had slipped out of the country days after Adiel Torati was killed in the central city of Petah Tikva on January 20.
Police had arrested two other suspects after the killing and during the course of the investigation it became apparent that two further suspects who were involved had fled, heading first to Uman in Ukraine and from there to Russia.
Israel Police alerted Russian authorities and they were arrested when they arrived in Russia, where they have been detained during the extradition process, police said.
“Completion of the extradition procedure today is another example of the determined efforts of the police, the prosecutor’s office and other enforcement agencies, and of the close cooperation with world enforcement authorities, which is not limited by time.”
The initial two suspects, who were arrested in Israel 10 days after Torati’s death, were charged in May.
According to court papers, three of the suspects — one of them the minor — were together with Torati in an apartment when a fight broke out. The three suspects allegedly punched and kicked Torati and attacked him with a box cutter and a broken bottle, causing his death.
Along with the fourth suspect, they then allegedly buried his body in a nearby wooded area. The minor and the fourth suspect left the country three days later while the other two were arrested and taken into custody.
The extradition comes amid a rift between Israel and Russia over the fate of US-Israeli citizen Naama Issachar who was earlier this month sentenced to 7.5 years in prison by a Moscow court after 10 grams of marijuana was found in her suitcase during a stopover in Russia while she waited for a connecting flight on her way home from India to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a formal request to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking that Issachar be pardoned. Moscow has said the Russian leader would consider the request.
Israeli officials reportedly believe Moscow is using Issachar, who also holds American citizenship, as leverage to ensure the return of Aleksey Burkov, an IT specialist set to be extradited by Israel to the US, where he is wanted on embezzlement charges. Reports in the Hebrew media have indicated Israeli officials think Burkov may be tied to Russian intelligence.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana on Wednesday signed Burkov’s extradition order, likely dealing a blow to efforts to free Issachar.
Issachar’s family planned to file a High Court of Justice petition against the extradition of Burkov by Friday, Channel 12 reported. Her mother, Yaffa, who is in Russia, has been granted permission to visit her daughter, also on Friday, after being denied access to Issachar earlier this week.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.