Dudu Topaz Commits Suicide in Prison while Awaiting Trial
Dudu Topaz, the famous Israeli TV entertainer, hung himself, effectively committing suicide in his cell while he was awaiting his trial for allegedly plotting attacks on TV executives, whom he blamed for his fading popularity.
Dudu Topaz used to be the 'TV king of Israel', but was charged for hiring thugs to attack his network bosses, who he claimed ditched him for reality television shows.
Prison officials said that Mr Topaz, 62, was found hanging from the shower of his cell. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for an hour before he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Topaz used to be a household name in Israel, but when the story broke earlier this year of his alleged connection to a proposed attack on his network bosses, his return to the spotlight of news was not what he hoped for.
He was suspected to have ordered an attack on a female vice president of Israel's Channel 2 TV, and the executive was beaten and hospitalised with a broken nose and fractured face.
In the previous year, another executive from Channel 2 and an actor's agent had also been attacked, apparently ordered by Mr. Topaz as well, and investigators said that Mr. Topaz confessed to the accusations that he ordered the assault.
When he hung himself he was facing charges of assault and battery, conspiracy to commit a crime, extortion and obstruction of justice. He was in custody in a cell for prisoners at risk of harming themselves, but he managed to end his life anyway with an electrical cord from a kettle.
This was the second time that he had tried to commit suicide since he was arrested in May; the first time he tried to overdose on insulin, but he was taken to hospital in time and was saved.
Mr Topaz’s lawyer blamed the prison authorities for not preventing the suicide when he said that his client was clearly a danger to himself and should have been held in a psychiatric hospital. “All the signs pointed to the fact that he was likely to harm himself,” Zion Amir, his attorney, said. “Why did they not guard him?”
Dudu Topaz shot to fame in the early 1990s, and he became the face of Israeli television. He even hosted a show where he promised that UFOs would land live during the show.
He had a history of being eccentric however, and in 1995 was fined when he publicly attacked a television critic and crushed his glasses when he got a bad review. In 2003 he was accused of sexual harassment and indecent acts, but was never charged. He later bit a female Latin-American soap star on the arm during a live broadcast for no apparent reason.