Police: Criminals integrated with entertainment world

Singer Tzanani remanded for six more days; alleged victim, agent Assaf Atadegi, says "no one threatened me."

August 18, 2011 02:26
3 minute read.
Margalit Tzanani in court

Margalit Tzanani in court311. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger)

Police have expressed concern that an explosive investigation based on suspicions that singer Margalit Tzanani sent mobsters to collect a debt from her music agent has exposed how criminal elements have infiltrated the entertainment world.

“As I’ve said during past sessions, this is a forlorn episode involving criminals and the entertainment world.

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Tzanani affair: Court extends singer's remand by 9 days

There are 22 individuals involved, and a great deal of investigative steps to take [in the coming days],” Supt. Avi Ahaharak, a police representative, told Rishon Lezion’s Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday during a remand hearing for Tzanani.

As part of the investigation police on Thursday continued to check Tzananai's bank account to search for irregular movements and locate potential evidence of extortion to retrieve a debt.

The singer has denied all suspicions against her.

During police questioning, Tzanani has maintained that while she did have a financial dispute with her agent, Assaf Atadegi, she did not send anyone to threaten him.

Tzanani’s lawyer, Shahar Hatzroni, claimed during the remand hearing that Tzanani and Atadegi had solved the dispute and come to a written understanding.

Nevertheless, acting on a secret police report made available to her, Judge Shirli Dekel Nave ruled to keep Tzanani in custody for nine days – a surprisingly long period of time. It was later shortened to six days by the Petah Tikva District Court.

“In light of the investigative material placed before me, I have ruled that a reasonable suspicion exists that the suspect is involved in the offenses attributed to her,” the judge said, noting she was aware the suspect “has no criminal past.”

Two members of an alleged crime organization led by Amir Mulner, named as Michael Hazan and Ofer Amar, also had their custody extended by nine days.

Tamir Sananas, their lawyer, said they had “no knowledge” of the affair, and “never handled Tzanani’s financial issues. They didn’t threaten anyone...they were socially acquainted with Tzanani. None of my clients were told what they did wrong.”

A third man, Yossef Ben-David, a music producer suspected of linking Tzanani to the underworld, will also be held for nine days.

“Margalit Tzanani and Assaf Atadegi are good friends of mine. I want the court to understand that I told them both to stay away from anyone with even a minor offense to his name,” Ben-David said during the hearing.

“God is my witness in the sky, I did not threaten [anyone],” he added.

Following the ruling, Tzanani’s lawyer launched an appeal at the Petah Tikva District Court to release her to house arrest rather than remain in custody.

But the court ruled “there is a basis of evidence to back up reasonable suspicious against Tzanani. Due to the nature of the suspicions and their scope, releasing her would be a danger. The number of suspects mean that her release would subvert the investigation.”

The court did, however, shorten the period of custody by three days.

On Wednesday Atadegi told Ma’ariv, “No one threatened me. I don’t know where this story of a complaint [by me] came from. It didn’t come from me. I wasn’t threatened and I did not submit a complaint to anyone. I’m not tied at all to this affair.”

He added, “It pains me to see Margol in this state. I’m still her agent and I still represent her.”

Asked why he vanished over the past day, Atadegi replied: “Everything is fine with me. I feel good. I just went to rest a little. I wanted to take a little time for myself.”

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