Internal Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich on Sunday announced that the government would set up an external committee to investigate the recent security breach at Rimonim Prison, in which Samuel Sheinbein, an American-Israeli convicted murderer serving his sentence in Israel, was able to obtain a gun and shoot three security guards, wounding one seriously.
The committee will examine, among other things, why Sheinbein had been granted numerous furloughs – having apparently obtained the gun on one of them – and more importantly, how he subsequently managed to sneak it back into the prison without being noticed. The committee will also examine reports that Sheinbein had elected to commit “suicide” by shooting the guards, knowing that he himself would be shot, and most likely killed.
Dr. Guy Rothkoff, Director General of the Interior Ministry, will head the investigation committee. He will be joined by several former police and security officials. The committee is expected to issue a report in about a month, Aharonovitch said.
“This was a very serious incident, and we cannot allow it to repeat itself,” said Aharonovich. “We must examine the incident thoroughly, including the circumstances that led up to it and the reasons it was able to occur, and determine what the weak points in the system were so we can correct them.”
On September 16, 1997, Sheinbein and Aaron Benjamin Needle, a former classmate at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Aspen Hill, Maryland, killed Alfredo Enrique Tello, Jr.. They then dismembered and burned his body.
Sheinbein escaped extradition by claiming Israeli citizenship through his father. He pleaded guilty to killing Tello in an Israeli court in 1999. He was serving a 24-year sentence in Israel but could have faced life in prison if tried in the United States.
The incident provoked a diplomatic row between the US and Israel, and prompted changes to Israel's extradition laws.