Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - News that a plea bargain was being arranged for Samuel Sheinbein, the American teenager who fled to Israel to avoid prosecution in the US after being charged in the murder and dismemberment of a Maryland teenager, has surprised both the Israel State Attorney's office and Sheinbein's lawyers.
In response to Tuesday's revelation by Maryland prosecutors that Sheinbein had bargained for a 24-year prison sentence, Israel's Attorney General, Elyakim Rubinstein spoke to reporters about the case Wednesday, emphasizing the seriousness with which Israel viewed the case. "This is an unusual press briefing. Normally we don't comment on cases that are pending."
The unanticipated announcement of the plea bargain by Maryland officials drew fire from Israeli prosecutors. "We expect our colleagues in the United States to respect our court and our prosecution the same way we respect them," Rubinstein said. "We sent the plea bargain to the prosecutor in Maryland as a cordiality, as a matter of working relations. He made it public. We didn't feel it was proper. We felt it was a breach of professional faith. Nevertheless, that's a fact of life."
Sheinbein, an American teenager accused of the murder and dismemberment of 19-year-old Alfred Tello, fled to Israel to escape arrest nearly two years ago. He was 17 at the time, a minor under Israeli law. Although he had never lived in Israel, he was able to be recognized as an Israeli because his father is an Israeli citizen, and thus he avoided extradition.
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