UK & World News
Israel Pays $1.2m For Australian 'Spy' Death
Israel has agreed to pay $1.2m (£760,000) compensation to the family of an Australian-Israeli found dead in a prison cell after allegedly working as a spy for the country's intelligence service, Mossad.
Ben Zygier was 34 years old when he hanged himself in his cell on 15 December 2010, shortly after a visit from his wife. He had been secretly arrested and imprisoned several months earlier in circumstances which remain unclear.
The existence of Israel's so-called Prisoner X only became known when it was revealed by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent programme earlier this year.
It was suggested Mr Zygier was being held for treason after he mistakenly disrupted a Mossad mission in 2007 to exhume the bodies of Israeli tank crewmen captured and killed by Syrian forces during Israel's invasion of Lebanon.
The revelations, although unconfirmed, led to a political scandal in Israel with feared intelligence agency forced to review recruiting procedures.
The disclosures also generated intense interest in Australia leading to Foreign Minister Bob Carr criticising his department's handling of the case.
Israeli Attorney General, Moshe Lador, admitted there were serious mistakes made by the prison service.
Prison guards missed periodic checks of Mr Zygier's "suicide proof" cell, at least one CCTV camera was faulty, and crucial information about his poor mental health was not given to prison doctors.
But an enquiry decided there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against prison staff.
Mr Zygier's family will receive an immediate payment of $720,000 (£456,420) with further payments of $120,000 (£76,070) over four years.
But they are party to a gagging clause which prevents them speaking publicly about the circumstances of the settlement.
His parents Geoffrey and Louise are prominent leaders of Melbourne's Jewish community and are understood to have a central role in negotiations for compensation.
The terms of the agreement absolve the Israeli government for any blame over Mr Zygier''s death.
Mr Zygier, who was born in Melbourne, is survived by his Israeli wife and two small children.