Head of investigated Haredi website sent to house arrest

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April 17, 2012 03:31
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The head of a haredi website under investigation for the alleged extortion of members of the Orthodox community was released to house arrest on Monday.

The suspect, who cannot be named, appeared before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, where he accused police of painting a “demonic picture” of him and presenting him as a “dangerous person.” The comments came after the police representative to court, Ronen Mizrahi, said police had a recording of a phone conversation involving the website’s director-general, in which he said, “If I hear the name of the person claiming he was extorted one more time I will send people to murder his children.”

According to the suspicions, the director- general of the Hadrei Haredim news site and three employees extorted members of the haredi community, threatening to publish content that would damage their reputations if large sums were not paid to them. Police believe the suspects extorted millions of shekels in this manner.

Under the terms of the release, the suspect is forbidden from having any links to his website or its employees during his house arrest.

Speaking before the court, the suspect cast doubt on the police’s ability to convert the investigation into charges that would stick in court.

But Mizrahi said that the more police delved into the case, “the more we reach the clear conclusion that the suspect allegedly carried out the offenses attributed to him. There is no indictment [yet] because there is much more work to be done, and I’m stating that there will be an indictment.”

Last week, the suspect’s attorney, Yehoshua Raznik, accused police of conducting a vindictive investigation because the site published an anti-police poster showing Jerusalem district police chief, Cmdr. Niso Shaham, in an SS uniform.

The publication came during the height of tensions between members of the haredi community and police in Beit Shemesh earlier this year.

“You are here on behalf of the district commander and making harsh claims because of this publication,” Raznik told the police representative to court.

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