Notorious mobster Zeev Rosenstein, at one time Israel’s most wanted criminal, was released from prison on Sunday after winning early release on parole following over 17 years in jail.
His release came eight months before the end of his sentence after a parole board decided he did not pose a threat to the public and had tired of the criminal lifestyle, a ruling that contradicted intelligence held by police and the prison service, the Haaretz daily reported.
“The committee is under the impression that the many years the prisoner spent in prison, the treatment he underwent over the last four years and his medical condition, did indeed cause a change in his thinking. His release does not endanger public safety,” the ruling said, according to Channel 13 news.
“I am tired of life in prison,” Rosenstein told prison officials. “I understand the circumstances of my life that brought me to the world of crime, I take responsibility and I will do everything to rehabilitate and to turn a new page in my life. I will do everything not to return to the world of crime.”
According to the report, the prosecution was not moved by what it described as Rosenstein’s “crocodile tears,” saying that intelligence suggested he did in fact still pose a threat to the public.
Rosenstein was arrested in 2004 and extradited to the United States in 2006 over drug trafficking charges involving the smuggling of millions of ecstasy pills.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, which he has been serving out in Israel, with an additional five years from a plea deal over conspiracy to commit murder.
Rosenstein has survived multiple assassination attempts including a drive-by shooting and bomb attacks.
In 2003, rival crime groups targeted him in a bomb attack on a Tel Aviv street. Although Rosenstein survived the hit attempt, three innocent bystanders were killed and 18 injured in the blast, which occurred at the height of the Second Intifada, when Israelis were targeted by repeated Palestinian suicide bombings.