Police questioned Rabbi Avraham Yosef, one of the leading Shas candidates for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi, for eight hours on Wednesday morning, under suspicion of a breach trust relating to a conflict of interests within the framework of his duties as chief rabbi of Holon.

The conflict of interests relates to the granting of mehadrin kashrut license in the city, he said.

Yosef was released under restricted conditions following the police interview conducted by the National Investigative Branch.

Speaking to Radio Kol Hai on Wednesday afternoon, Yosef said he was certain of his innocence and that he has worked for the good of the community, and had never advanced the interests of any kashrut authority in general, and of the Shas-run Beit Yosef kashrut authority in particular.

Earlier on Wednesday, Army Radio reported that the police were reexamining a file that was opened several years ago against Yosef, who is the eldest living son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founder and spiritual leader of the Shas movement.

The investigation comes as Ovadia Yosef is poised to decide which of the several candidates for Sephardi chief rabbi he will endorse as the official Shas contender.

The police investigation appears to relate to an incident in which Avraham Yosef allegedly fired a kashrut supervisor working in Holon for conducting political activities against Shas.

According to the report, a recording exists in which Yosef can allegedly be heard accusing the supervisor of working against his father and firing him on the spot.

A labor court ruled at the time that Yosef had acted inappropriately and awarded compensation to the kashrut supervisor. A police investigation opened at the time was subsequently closed, but police are reportedly reexamining it in light of Yosef’s candidacy for chief rabbi.

Shas chairman Arye Deri defended the rabbi when questioned on the matter on Army Radio on Wednesday morning, saying Yosef was “a modest man, a former lieutenant- colonel in the army, a good man, who is devoted to serving the public.”

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.


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