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(photo credit: Courtesy)
The head of the national anti-drug authority Yair Geller was ordered kept in custody on Tuesday for his alleged role in a far-reaching corruption scandal in which around 30 suspects, including several Yisrael Beitenu officials and MKs have been detained, questioned, or arrested.
Vika Rabin, the parliamentary aide of MK Faina Kirschenbaum, who police believe was in charge of the conspiracy, was released to house arrest and banned from party offices and the Interior Ministry for 30 days.
The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court also extended by two days the remands of Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika and Haim Ben-Shoshan, the former head of the Central Company for the Development of Samaria. Effi Peles, an official with the Mateh Benyamin council was released to house arrest for 10 days and will be banned from entering the council offices for 30 days.
In court on Tuesday, Mesika’s attorney asked a police investigator to confirm whether or not his client is being accused of sending three specific payments to fellow suspects in the case, but police would not confirm.
Mesika, for his part, addressed the court, saying that he has been interrogated for a week and not once has he been accused of taking money into his own pocket.
“All I did was save a company and the income of 150 people”, Mesika said.
The case involves allegations that Kirschenbaum, the deputy Interior Minister from the Yisrael Beitenu, worked with a series of party officials and other cronies to develop a system wherein state money would be sent to NGOs and local authorities with the understanding that a “commission” would be kicked back up to Kirschenbaum and her associates, or that people close to them would be given jobs with the organizations that received money.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and other Yisrael Beitenu officials have claimed that the arrests were politically motivated and meant to coincide with the upcoming elections in March. Police have denied the claim, saying that the investigation was carried out for almost a year before new elections were announced.