Fanatic held for brothel murders

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The Independent Online

Detectives yesterday arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jew suspected of burning four prostitutes to death in a Tel-Aviv brothel 10 days ago. According to a spokesman, the suspect was picked up at 5am while preparing another arson attack. He claimed he was cleansing the city of vice.

Detectives yesterday arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jew suspected of burning four prostitutes to death in a Tel-Aviv brothel 10 days ago. According to a spokesman, the suspect was picked up at 5am while preparing another arson attack. He claimed he was cleansing the city of vice.

The police named him as Yariv Baruchin, 34, who had recently become religious and was studying in a yeshiva seminary in B'nei Brak, a predominantly Orthodox town on the eastern fringe of Tel Aviv. They are charging him with nine attacks on escort services and sex shops during a vicious, week-long campaign.

The four women, three Russians and one Israeli, were the only casualties. Their charred bodies were almost unrecognisable.

A team staking out a brothel in Avigdor Street early yesterday spotted Baruchin driving up in his car. He had brought bottles of inflammable liquid and rags. A search of his home in the Yad Eliyahu neighbourhood turned up more incendiary material and a list of 10 new targets.

Religious Jews are forbidden to drive or to kindle flames on the sabbath, but he explained that he was doing the Lord's work, which absolved him from these prohibitions. The police believe he was acting alone.

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