Arye Deri (Shas).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Interior Minister Arye Deri’s brother, attorney Shlomo “Momo” Deri, was questioned by police under caution for the third straight day on Thursday, as part of the corruption probe against the minister and his associates.
Shlomo’s name was cleared for publication late Wednesday night; after he requested the media ban be lifted, saying he has nothing to hide. Since Tuesday the press has been restricted to saying only that a “very close associate” of Deri has been questioned under caution, even as the identity of the suspect in question was known to Deri’s inner circle.
Deri’s questioning on Thursday began around 10:30am at the Lod headquarters of the LAHAV 433 unit and is expected to last for several hours, just as on both previous occasions this week. In addition, earlier this week police carried out searches at his home and office in Jerusalem.
Shlomo Deri is considered one of his brother’s closest confidants and according to reports earlier this week on Channel 2, he is suspected of carrying out some of the more severe corruption charges in the Israeli penal code. Deri himself is also expected to be questioned under caution at some point before the Passover holiday which begins on April 22nd.
Though in the past they have downplayed the case against Deri, sources close to the minister said Tuesday that they are concerned that police will find incriminating information against him.
Earlier this week Shlomo downplayed his brother’s involvement in the purchase of the family properties at the center of the corruption probe. He told Channel 10 in an interview that their luxurious vacation villa in the Upper Galilee village of Kfar Hoshen, also known as Safsufa, is not worth more than a three-bedroom apartment in Tel Aviv.
Deri said at the Union of Local Authorities in Israel pre-Rosh Hashana toast in Tel Aviv It is no secret that he is going through tough times, but that he and his staff at both of his ministries were still working from morning until night.
"I said from the first moment that I will be willing to answer any question from all the law enforcement authorities and I say it again," he said. "I have no doubt that the law enforcement authorities are acting with integrity and loyalty, doing their job and checking everything. I will wait quietly and patiently for the end of the investigation with the help of God."
A Panels Research poll broadcast Thursday on the Knesset Channel found that 83 percent of Israelis believe their politicians are corrupt, 13% do not believe they are and four percent do not have an opinion on the matter.
Nevertheless, when Shas voters were asked if due to the probe of the leader of the party they were considering not voting for it in the next election, 76% said would still vote Shas and only 22% said they were considering supporting a different party instead.