BANGKOK – Eli Cohen, who was convicted of murdering his ex-wife Carol Cohen, dismembering her body and dumping the parts in a suitcase in a Bangkok river in 2004, will be released from a Thai prison in six months, Foreign Ministry officials confirmed on Monday.
Having been originally sentenced to life in prison, Cohen has recently received a clemency from the King of Thailand. He cannot be put on trial again as he has already been tried and convicted of murder.
Carol’s family said in response that they would do everything in their power to prevent Cohen’s return to Israel. “I’d rather die than see the person who cut my daughter in pieces and threw her into the river,” Carol’s mother Rivkah Amsalem said.
The couple decided to end their marriage over Cohen’s desire to move to Australia. Several months after leaving Israel, he invited his ex-wife to meet him in Thailand and the two met there in February 2004.
Three days after her departure from Israel, Carol’s body was found.
Carol’s mother said that the two were married for 10 years and had separated on good terms. “He invited her to Thailand but on the plane she discovered she had a one-way ticket. We arranged a return flight but less than 24 hours he had already slaughtered her.”
Following the murder, Cohen contacted the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok and reported his ex-wife missing. A short while later, local police arrived at his hotel room only to discover what was later described as a “slaughter house.”
Some of the remains of the body have yet to be found.
A Thai court convicted Cohen of murder and sentenced him to life in prison. He did not receive the maximum penalty of a death sentence as he managed to convince the judges he did not plan the murder which he claimed happened “in the heat of the moment.”
Thailand is known for its flexible clemency policy, especially around the king and queen’s birthdays, due to a shortage of space in Thai prisons.
Cohen had twice appealed for a pardon. On his first attempt, his sentence was commuted to three years. After his second pardon was accepted his sentence was reduced by half making him eligible for release in May.
Carol’s aunt said: “Let me ask the King of Thailand, if someone would have murdered your daughter so brutally then released from prison nine years later, how would you feel?”
The victim’s family is accusing Interior Minister Eli Yishai of being involved in efforts for Cohen’s release but the minister is firmly denying the allegations. “The minister has no connection to the murderer’s release,” a statement on behalf of Yishai said. “The minister is of the opinion that a murderer, any murderer, must spend the rest of his days behind bars.”
But this has not convinced Carol’s mother. “I don’t believe him,” she said. “Some religious people are crooks and Eli Yishai will be held accountable in the afterlife. When I kill myself I’ll leave a note saying he’s guilty so he expresses some remorse.”
She further added, “There are Israeli drug dealers in Thailand that are still in prison after 15 years but suddenly a savage murderer is released with no outside help? I don’t believe that.”
“Eli Yishai should have talked to us – the victim’s family – and not just the murderer’s family before he became involved. The murderer has Australian citizenship. At the very least they should have made sure he will be sent to Australia and doesn’t set foot in Israel.”