Drama and corruption

Until Monday afternoon this week, the story about corruption of a high-ranking municipality official who headed a city subsidiary was fairly routine.

By
August 14, 2019 21:22
2 minute read.
Drama and corruption

CORRUPTION AND fraud have long been a concern of Jerusalem mayors.. (photo credit: TNS)

Until Monday afternoon this week, the story about corruption of a high-ranking municipality official who headed a city subsidiary was fairly routine. Then one of the suspects jumped five stories from his apartment to his death, after leaving a letter explaining his decision. Just hours before the opening of Hutzot Hayotzer, the large festival held in the city every summer, produced by one of the two suspects, this tragic development in the fraud and corruption story shook Safra Square.

Ariel CEO Tzion Turgeman had been arrested the week before on suspicion of fraud and corruption, together with Danny Katz, head of the archives of the license and supervision administration. The 10-month secret police investigation ended Tuesday with the arrest of the two, plus one of Turgeman’s closest assistants. They were held in custody for 24 hours and then released to remain at their homes until the end of the investigation.

Turgeman is suspected of having distributed thousands of tickets over the years for the performances and festivals produced by the Ariel company in return for various benefits, including a permit to demolish an old building in Katamon classified for preservation, on whose plot he constructed a multi-unit building. Katz is also suspected of “fixing” thousands of parking tickets in return for favors. Turgeman’s assistant is suspected of having helped the two in their alleged illegal activities.

Turgeman and Katz claimed their innocence, and Turgeman even announced that he was planning to show up at the opening of Hutzot Hayotzer. But a few days after being released to remain at his home, Katz jumped to his death, changing the whole situation. Turgeman decided not to appear at the opening.

Tzion Turgeman, 71, a veteran at the municipality, is the first – and so far the only – general director of the Ariel subsidiary, which was created 16 years ago. Ariel is responsible for all the big festivals in the city and manages the Arena.

Corruption and fraud have long been a concern of Jerusalem mayors. Since the tenure of Ehud Olmert (1993-2003), several corruption affairs have been exposed, particularly involving construction, permit and supervision matters. Under Nir Barkat, the investigation and arrest of deputy mayor Meir Turgeman (no family ties) shook Safra Square – Turgeman had just launched his mayoral campaign when he was arrested for fraud and corruption.
It is not clear how the death of Katz will affect the investigation.



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