(photo credit: SCOTT WINTROW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
Israel billionaire Lev Leviev's diamond company LLD has asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to probe the circumstances of the suicide of an employee who was questioned under caution this week in connection with a massive diamond smuggling scandal.
On Tuesday night, 42-year-old Mazal Hadadi jumped out of her office window in Ramat Gan’s Diamond Exchange District.
“The circumstances of her death raise the suspicion that she took her life due to severe emotional distress [from] the aggressive and disproportionate investigation she was subjected to in recent days,” the letter stated.
“The incident requires an independent and urgent examination by the attorney general’s office of the circumstances of her death,” the letter added. According to LLD, they have information that indicates that the employee was subjected to severe pressure and threats that caused her severe mental distress and deep shock.
The woman was a junior clerk who, according to LLD, was on her way to the train station on Tuesday with a colleague when she received another summons from the interrogators by telephone; about half an hour later she was found dead under the window of her office.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the company said: “With great shock and deep sadness, we received the notice of the terrible loss of a company employee. We will take all steps in our power in order to assist in the investigation of her death... to put an end to this difficult situation, and to assist in the serious phenomenon of the trampling of rights of those being investigated and the irreversible damage caused by the drive to create headlines.”
The Israel Police said in response: “We regret the tragic results of the incident that took place in the Ramat Gan Stock Exchange.” It said that the police do not usually speak about proceedings related to investigations that are underway or to the suspects or those questioned. “Nonetheless, because of the announcement made on behalf of the company involved in the police investigation, the police believe it is appropriate to say that details given in the announcement are fundamentally inaccurate,” the police said.
“The Israel Police always acts with the requisite sensitivity, while meticulously maintaining the dignity and rights of suspects and interrogatees, and taking a variety of investigative actions aimed at bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Earlier this month, police arrested six suspects, including Leviev’s son and brother, on suspicion of smuggling diamonds worth hundreds of millions of shekels to Israel.
They are suspected of money laundering, offenses under the Income Tax Ordinance, customs offenses, conspiring to commit a crime, false registration of corporate documents, fraud and other offenses.
The arrests came following an undercover operation by the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 National Crime Unit and the Tax Authority in collaboration with the State Attorney-General’s Office’s Taxation and Economic Department.
Police believe the suspects each played a part in planning and smuggling diamonds into Israel over the course of several years, without reporting them to the relevant authorities.
A source connected to the investigation denied that Mazal received a call from the Lahav 443 Unit yesterday evening before her death, Channel 2 reported.
The investigative units seek to question Leviev, who currently resides in Russia, as well as carry out additional arrests, both in Israel and abroad.
Israeli media reported that the police and state prosecutor are in contact with Leviev regarding him coming to Israel for questioning. The billionaire reportedly fears that he will be arrested the moment he lands in Israel and has sought assurances that this will not happen, but the Israel Police has not agreed to this.
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