Saturday, April 7 2001
Ofra Haza's husband found dead, 
police suspect drug overdose

By Amit Ben-Aroya
Ha'aretz Correspondent and wires

Doron Ashkenazi - widower of Israel's most successful international singer, Ofra Haza, who died of AIDS in February 2000 - died Saturday night of an overdose of crystallized cocaine, police said.

His autopsy today may shed a light on Haza's death as well.

"We are expecting an answer as to whether Doron was HIV positive, and the one who infected Ofra," attorney Arie Sharabi, who represents the Haza family, said yesterday.

Several complaints were filed with the police, accusing Ashkenazi of not informing Haza that he was HIV positive. Ashkenazi, who has an eight-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, was never arrested in connection with Haza's death. The Tel Aviv prosecutor is still working on the Haza file. His death is to terminate the investigation, unless the family allows it to be continued, which is very unlikely, Sharabi explained.

On Saturday night, the night of the Seder, Ashkenazi would not celebrate with his family. He said he was still in mourning. A preliminary police investigation indicates he spent the evening with friends, doing "crystal meth" at Ashkenazi's home in Herzliya.

When Ashkenazi suddenly collapsed at 8 P.M., one of the friends called an ambulance, and told Ashkenazi's family. Ashkenazi was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where, after attempts at resuscitation, he was pronounced dead.

Police were only informed at 10:30 PM. Chief Superintendent Avi Sasson, deputy commander of the Gelilot station, which is investigating the case, told Ha'aretz he still did not know why Ashkenazi's car was found parked in south Tel Aviv.

Ashkenazi family lawyer Shmuel Zang said Ashkenazi was focused on the legal proceeding that were to begin in a few weeks regarding the validity of Haza's will, a copy of which could not be found.

The medical panel that investigated Haza's death published its findings three months ago. Its report said that, if Haza had admitted herself to hospital earlier, her life might have been saved. But Haza, fearful that her condition would become public knowledge, refused to go to the hospital, even when her situation had become very serious.

Ashkenazi was first exposed to the public eye when, in July 1997, he married Haza, a popular singer. She was discovered at age 12 at the underprivileged Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv, by Bezalel Aloni, who was her personal manager for years - until her marriage to Ashkenazi, when she severed her ties with him.

Just weeks before her death, she telephoned Aloni and told him of her condition. "I said a year ago that this man [Ashkenazi] was to blame. He covered himself with a battery of lawyers. His death only serves to emphasize how tragic and futile Ofra's death was. Doron was the first and last man in her life, and that's terrible," Aloni said.

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