Dudu Topaz kills himself in prison

Dudu Topaz, the Israeli television star killed himself in prison, while he was awaiting trial for assault and conspiracy charges

By Jessica Elgot, August 20, 2009
Dudu Topaz

Dudu Topaz

One of Israel’s top television stars, Dudu Topaz, has committed suicide in prison, the Israeli Prison Service has announced.

Mr Topaz, 62, apparently hanged himself in the shower at the Nitzan Detention Centre in Ramla while awaiting trial for multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

Mr Topaz was on suicide watch but no security cameras could see him in the shower.

Zion Amir, Mr Topaz's lawyer, blamed the media circus around his trial for driving his client to suicide.

He said: "I'm so angry about it, people kill, and they killed Dudu Topaz without mercy or compassion. They just took him and shook him without mercy."

Mr Topaz was awaiting trial after he confessed to organising a series of physical attacks on media executives who rejected his ideas for television programmes.

Mr Topaz apparently hired two former bouncers to assault Shira Margalit, vice president of Channel 2; Avi Nir, a Channel 2 director; and talent agent Boaz Ben-Zion in Tel Aviv over the past seven months.

Ms Margalit was hospitalised with fractures in her face.

Police believe Mr Topaz was also planning to attack Amos Regev, editor of the freesheet Yisrael Hayom, who refused to run his column.

For 25 years, Mr Topaz was the king of Israeli entertainment.

In the early 1980s, when the country had only one TV channel, he hosted gameshows and filled concert halls with crowds who came to see his stand-up acts.

Last updated: 3:42pm, August 24 2009