November 7, 1994
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) -- An AIDS-infected professor spent the last year of his life advertising for sex, spreading the deadly virus and videotaping the men he slept with in a macabre act of vengeance, police say.
The man, Yeshayahu Demner, was found murdered a week ago.
Demner's hundreds of potential victims may have included Palestinians, U.S. sailors and his students from the Technion engineering university, police investigators told The Associated Press on Monday.
But there was no evidence Demner sought to infect Arabs or members of any specific group, said police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police suspect the engineering professor -- described by students as a reserved, kindly man -- was bludgeoned to death by a man he infected with the AIDS virus.
The case has stunned Israel, with gay activists fearing their struggle for acceptance in a conservative society has been set back years. Some lawmakers pressed for a crackdown against people with AIDS.
The story broke when police, alerted by colleagues that Demner was missing for two days, burst into his apartment a week ago to discover his naked body on the couch with marks on his head from being struck.
David Tuval, the detective in charge of the case, said documents showed Demner discovered he had HIV, the sexually transmittable virus that leads to AIDS, in September 1993.
Demner then reportedly began advertising for sex. His phone message box solicited "active partners" and noted that "age and color don't matter," the Yedioth Aharonoth daily newspaper said.
Police sources said Demner offered partners money to forgo use of condoms.
"There is no doubt he wanted to extract revenge for getting AIDS, that is made clear in his diaries," said a police detective in Demner's hometown of Haifa. He said Demner sometimes had sex more than once a day and "could have infected 500 men."
Although the diaries mentioned his partners only by partial or coded names, investigators discovered many photographs and film of his alleged sexual partners, some in explicit signs of embrace.
Police believe Demner's partners may have included members of United Nations forces in Lebanon as well as least two U.S. servicemen from the Navy's Sixth Fleet, whose ships frequent Haifa.
Police have questioned a number of people who had sexual relations with Demner but so far no arrests have been made.
Colleagues and students said they were shocked about the allegations surrounding the life and death of the man they knew as the head of Technion's electronics lab.
"The surprise is total," said electrical engineer Yisrael Ariel, a Technion graduate. "He was such a very nice person. He did his job well. It's totally out of character for him to transmit the disease on purpose."
Anula Shamir, spokeswoman for the Society For Personal Rights, a group that promotes gay issues, said the affair is bound to buttress strong anti-gay feelings in Israel.
Israel was founded on liberal Western values, but homosexuality is not accepted by large segments of the population, such as Orthodox Jews and immigrants from Middle Eastern countries.
"The Demner case has done gays and lesbians here great harm, strengthening a stereotype of the homosexual as dangerous to society, a corruptor of young people," she said.
After the Demner case broke, Yoram Las, a lawmaker from the governing Labor Party, presented an "AIDS Prevention Law" to parliament.
The bill would outlaw sexual contact by HIV carriers who hide their infection from partners. It would also authorize doctors to order AIDS tests, force hospitalization of HIV carriers and permit the expulsion from Israel of infected non-citizens.
About 150 Israelis have died of AIDS and 1,500 are known HIV carriers.