Police arrest Israeli in rape of Miss World

JERUSALEM — Police have arrested an Egyptian-born Israeli suspected of raping and attempting to kill Israeli Linor Abargil less than two months before she won the Miss World pageant.

At Abargil's request, a district court on Thursday of last week lifted a ban barring publication in Israel of details about the case.

Abargil, who is 19, had previously filed for the injunction in order to aid police efforts to apprehend the suspect, Uri Shlomo.

Police detained Shlomo, a 43-year-old travel agent, when he arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Jan. 9.

Shlomo lives in Jerusalem and has a business in Italy. Married and a father of three, he has denied both charges. According to his lawyer Inbal Rubinstein, Shlomo asserts that Abergil consented to the physical contact between them but did not specify the type of contact.

In her statement, Abargil identified the travel agent as Shlomo Nour. However, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman said his name was Uri Shlomo and that he sometimes used a different name.

Abargil, who did not appear in court last week, said Shlomo attacked her on Oct. 6, after she went to his travel agency in Milan to arrange a flight home from a modeling job.

According to her, Shlomo told her that all flights to Israel from Milan were full and that she would have to travel to Rome to get a flight to Israel.

Shlomo told her that he could not find her a seat on a plane or train to Rome and offered to drive her in his car to Rome, which is eight hours away, she said. At some point he stopped the car.

"He produced a knife with which he threatened me and raped me," a statement from Abargil's lawyer quoted her as saying. "Afterward, he tied me up and gagged my mouth with adhesive tape and tried to choke me with a rope and a plastic bag. I struggled with him with all my strength, and finally, when he did not succeed in choking me, he released me and asked me not to contact police. I stayed calm, and promised him that everything would be all right, and that I would not file a complaint against him."

He brought her back to Milan. She took a train to Rome, where she filed a complaint with police before returning to Israel, she said.

Shlomo was arrested and detained for several days, but later released for lack of sufficient evidence.

Seven weeks after the alleged attack, Abargil won the Miss World competition, held on the Seychelles Islands, which are located in the Indian Ocean.

Abargil, who lives in the coastal city of Netanya, refused interviews last week. But she said in the statement that she believes it was important that the matter be made public, to serve as an example for other women who have undergone similar experiences.

While a publication ban was imposed in Israel, the alleged crime had been widely reported by the foreign media and on the Internet.

Judge Ori Goren agreed to lift the comprehensive publication ban with one exception. He forbade publication of "details on the criminal past of the suspect, if he has one — and on this subject it is only permitted to make public that in the past there have been complaints against [Shlomo] regarding sexual offenses."

Abargil's lawyer said his client also wanted to go public with her charges to dispel rumors that she won the title as compensation because a Miss World judge raped her.

"I wish to dispel — once and for all — the wave of offensive rumors and gossip which has swept over my relatives and myself since I won the competition and returned to Israel," Abergil stated. "I won the Miss World award by right, not by sufferance."