(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced on Monday that he will indict Likud MK Oren Hazan for roughing up Ariel’s City Council chairman and accosting Ariel’s mayor in October 2014, when Hazan was expressing anger over the fact that the city had placed a lien on his mother’s bank account for an unpaid debt.
Mandelblit sent a letter to Hazan and to the Knesset regarding his intent to indict, noting that Hazan had 30 days to try to claim parliamentary immunity.
Traditionally, once a case is serious enough that the attorney- general is ready to indict an MK, removing his parliamentary immunity is a mere formality.
Mandelblit had said he would likely indict Hazan as early as December. A Justice Ministry statement had said that Hazan had hurled the chairman into a railing, cursed out the mayor and threatened to get them thrown out of their jobs, and that Hazan would likely be indicted, subject to a special pre-indictment hearing reserved for public officials.
Mandelblit had also said he was closing the file on allegations of sexual harassment against the controversial MK.
In December, Hazan responded that he hoped he would convince Mandelblit to drop the charges, which he characterized as a minuscule incident with responsibility on both sides and which just got a little out of hand.
Monday’s announcement clarified that Mandelblit did not accept Hazan’s explanations and defenses.
Hazan’s attorney Efraim Dimri said he was surprised and disappointed by Mandelblit’s decision.
He denied that Hazan physically harmed anyone and said the charges were going to be dropped three years ago but were maintained at the behest of Hazan’s enemies in politics, who want to end his career.
Dimri said the context of the incident was that Hazan was considering running for mayor of Ariel at the time. He said he would meet with Hazan soon to discuss whether to lift his parliamentary immunity to fight the charges.
“The case should have been closed,” Dimri and attorney Zion Amir said in an official response.
“This was an incident between two politicians who issued mutual complaints, and it is as irrelevant as it gets. But now that the decision has been made, we will fight it in court, until the truth comes to light.”
If Hazan is convicted, then, because the crime involves moral turpitude, he would have to quit the Knesset. He would be replaced by the next name on the Likud list, attorney Osnat Mark, who lives in Ma’aleh Adumim and has a law office in Jerusalem.
If National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz quits to become Jewish Agency chairman, the next name on the list is another lawyer, Chicago-born Ziv Agmon.