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Malaysia charges alleged Israeli mobster Shalom Avitan with arms trafficking

Shalom Avitan, 38, was arrested on March 27, in a case that triggered wild speculation in Malaysia that he could be a spy with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

A handcuffed Avitan – clad in a black T-shirt, cargo pants and a black disposable mask – was brought into the Kuala Lumpur court complex surrounded by a team of heavily-armed police officers.

“Any person trafficking in firearms shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than thirty years … and with whipping with not less than six strokes,” according to Avitan’s charge sheet.

The Israeli national also faces a separate charge for illegally possessing 158 bullets, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

Avitan pleaded not guilty to both charges. Bail was refused.

This is the first time an Israeli national has been charged in a Malaysian court. Malaysia does not recognise Israel diplomatically and is the most outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause in Southeast Asia.

Avitan had reportedly entered Malaysia via the United Arab Emirates on a valid French passport on March 12 and was issued a tourist visa and then moved between four hotels in the country’s capital city.

Israeli media had identified Avitan as a mobster associated with the Israel-based Musli crime family.

During interrogation, he produced a separate Israeli passport and had told police that he was on the hunt for the leader of a rival gang who had purportedly taken up residence in Malaysia.

Police had said that they believe Avitan had secured the weapons locally and paid for them using cryptocurrency.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a Malaysian couple believed to have sold the firearms to Avitan.

Sharifah Faraha Syed Husin, 41, was charged with possession of a pistol while her