Coalition chair questioned second time in corruption probe

Bitan’s first questioning took place on Sunday for over 13 hours.

December 6, 2017 11:47
2 minute read.
Former coalition chairman David Bitan

Former coalition chairman David Bitan. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) arrived Wednesday morning for his second questioning in police case 1803, which looking into corruption in the Rishon Lezion Municipality. Bitan is suspected of accepting bribes, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering.

It is suspected that Bitan advanced the interests of organized-crime figures, such as Hussam Jarushi, in exchange for assisting him in erasing alleged debts to the criminal entities. Bitan’s first questioning took place on Sunday for over 13 hours.

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On his way to the Lahav 433 headquarters in Lod, Bitan told the media that he respects the restrictions imposed on him not to be interviewed regarding the investigation, but he expects others not to leak details as well.

On Tuesday, Bitan appealed to the court to allow him to be interviewed by the media on this matter. He asked that the restrictions be lifted, saying that he wished to combat leaks from the investigation made by the police.

“The [Lahav 433] investigating unit asks to avoid talking to the media in order to prevent the ‘disruption of the investigation,’” the letter that was sent to the court by his attorney reads. “[But] if giving details could lead to disruption of the investigation, this rule should all the more so apply to the investigating unit."
Coalition chairman David Bitan after being questioned by police in suspicion of corruption while serving as Mayor of Rishon Lezion, December 3, 2017. (Avshalom Shoshani)

“The questioning had only just ended and you couldn’t find one media outlet in the country that did not publish details from the petitioner’s (Bitan) and his wife’s interrogation. The petitioner is helpless. His name and his wife’s name are defamed for no reason, and he has no opportunity to respond.”

It was also revealed that the close relative of David Bitan who was questioned on Sunday and Monday was his wife, Hagit.

Some NIS 2 million were found in Hagit Bitan’s bank account. Channel 2 News reported on Monday that Hagit Bitan said in questioning that she did not know how the money got to her account.

“My husband was the one who deposited the money there,” she was quoted as saying. “I have no idea how it got there.

This comes as the police investigation into Rishon Lezion’s corruption has broadened. Arrests took place on Monday and Tuesday.

Among the senior figures suspected in this case is Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Zur, who is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

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