The state and alleged mob boss Shalom Domrani struck a plea bargain on Tuesday in which he will plead guilty to lesser charges and receive nine months in prison on top of the six months he has already served for meddling with the municipal elections in Netivot.
Many see the agreement as too lenient and a missed chance to keep a feared crime boss off the streets, but the case was always viewed as a difficult one with no smoking guns.
A victory for the state that may have made the deal more likely was convincing the Supreme Court on December 30 to keep Domrani in jail until the end of the trial.
Domrani’s lawyer, Moshe Sherman, who appeared genuinely shocked that his client was not released on bail after having hammered away at the prosecution’s case in a magistrate’s court hearing on bail, said that “the case is one of the most pathetic in Israeli history.”
The Beersheba District Court that first denied Domrani bail said the critical point was that his story, that he had just happened to visit the influential Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan (also known as “The X-ray”) on election day and strictly at Ifergan’s request (as opposed to the charges that he threatened the rabbi about the elections), along with the other evidence against him, was too unbelievable at this pretrial stage.
In light of his pretrial view of the evidence, the judge said that there was enough of a likelihood that Domrani had committed dangerous acts of threatening opposition campaign activists’ lives and caused broad harm to the Netivot public regarding the election, that he must be held in custody until the end of his trial.
Domrani’s trial opened in December with his arraignment and with Sherman berating the prosecution for failing to produce evidence it had promised and for failing to obtain a timely order of confidential privilege from the court regarding any “intelligence” evidence it was claiming it could not hand over to the defense.
At the November hearing on the issue, with little direct evidence to prove its allegations that Domrani threatened various rabbis and political players to convince them not to campaign in Netivot on municipal election day, the prosecution appeared nervous. It delivered an unusual extended analysis for a pretrial hearing on bail, trying to connect a large number of wiretapped conversations and events to show Domrani’s dangerousness and guilt.
Sherman made light of the prosecution’s case and said that there should be no case based on the flimsy evidence, but that since the state wanted to try to nail Domrani, it decided that the ends justify the means.
According to the indictment, Domrani threatened Ifergan to get him to end his support of Eyal Masika in the municipal elections, as part of a conspiracy with Ifergan’s rabbinic rival, Rabbi Yoram Abergil, to advance candidate Yehiel Zohar, who won reelection.
Despite the absence of “smoking gun” evidence against Domrani and his claim that he just visited Ifergan to “make peace” or at Ifergan’s request, the court decided to focus on its analysis of his alibi being unbelievable.