(photo credit: Courtesy)
Organized crime leader Shalom Domrani and four associates had their custody extended by the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Thursday after police accused them of assaulting and attempting to kidnap underworld rival Avner Harari in Tel Aviv last month.
Domrani is seen by law enforcement as a dominant organized crime leader in the greater Ashkelon area, but they have been unable in the past to gather sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Harari, who was injured during the incident, is also under arrest after allegedly making threats and disrupting the police investigation.
The police's National Economic Crimes Unit, which is tasked with closely monitoring Domrani's activities, arrested him and his associates on Wednesday, following an undercover investigation that was launched after the January 12 attack on Harari.
Police's representative Ch.-Supt. Zohar Levi said in court on Thursday that the attack was "severe" and took place "in the heart of Tel Aviv during the afternoon hours, in full view of passersby."
Domrani and his associates beat Harari as they attempted to kidnap him, according to the police, a allegation denied by Domrani's lawyer, Avi Himi, who said police lacked any substantial evidence to back up their claims.
Himi said his client was passing through the area by chance when he noticed a crowd gathering, and headed toward the scene out of curiosity. Domrani did not raise a hand against Harari during the incident, his lawyer said.
Domrani's lawyer challenged the police's assertion that a kidnapping attempt took place. "When you say they tried to kidnap a person, what factual characterization [can you point to] in the case? What is in this incident that turns it into a kidnapping or attempted kidnapping?"
"The court has received a description of the facts, which form the basis for a reasonable suspicion," Levi replied.
Judge Hadassah Naor ruled that the evidence tying Domrani to the attack was substantial, and the suspicions against the remaining suspects were reasonable.
Domrani's custody was extended by a week, while three of his associates were remanded for four days. A fourth associate will be held for three days, the judge ruled.
During the custody hearing, Levi drew Naor's attention to a number of confidential documents made available by police to the court.