Police interrogate mayors of three Israeli cities

Sderot's Moyal suspected of election bribery, giving "preferential treatment" to contractors for building shelters; Petah Tikva, Ramat Hasharon mayors also questioned.

eli moyal 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
eli moyal 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The National Fraud Unit questioned no less than three mayors on Wednesday over a series of unrelated allegations. Eli Moyal of Sderot, Yitzhak Ohayun of Petah Tikva, and Yitzhak Rochberger of Ramat Hasharon were all interrogated by detectives, a police spokeswoman has confirmed. Moyal is suspected by police of election bribery. "The suspicions center on the giving of jobs to associates, illegal payments to workers, preferential treatment given to contractors for the building of rocket shelters, with large sums, and fraudulent registration in corporate documents," police said in a statement. "I was interrogated, but I can't speak further on this," Moyal told The Jerusalem Post, adding that he had made a commitment to police not to talk about the investigation at this time. Ohayun was questioned under caution after police received a complaint a few months ago from a female employee of the municipality who accused him of committing "indecent acts" against her five years ago. Ohayun denied the allegations during his interrogation, police said. Meanwhile, after closing a previous investigation against Ramat Hasharon Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger in September due to lack of evidence for most of the allegations, police announced a fresh investigation against him on Wednesday, citing suspicions of fraudulent receipt of goods, forged documentation, fraud, and violation of public trust. Officers raided Rochberger's home, seizing documents police said were "relevant to the investigation," and Rochberger was questioned under caution. "The investigation is focused on the years 2004 to 2006 when, as mayor, Rochberger acted as a chairman for a fund paid into by local council employees. It is during this time that Rochberger is suspected of illegally filing for expenses worth tens of thousands of shekels," a police statement read. A source close to Rochberger said the investigation was part of an attempt by opponents to "politically persecute" him. "We respect the police examination and are convinced that the complaints will be found baseless," the source said. "The complaints were initiated by opposition elements... The mayor is convinced of his innocence, and believes he is being politically persecuted... These matters will be immediately clarified and found to have no legal weight." A fourth police investigation is ongoing against Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri, who was accused by a woman of touching her bottom while offering her a job, as well as a series of sexual harassment offenses. Mahatzri maintains he is victim of a plot by politicians.