Judge orders Tzanani held in lockup for another four days

Police say there’s been ‘significant development’ in investigation of singer’s activities.

By JOANNA PARASCZCUK
August 23, 2011 04:55
3 minute read.
Margalit Tzanani in court

Margalit Tzanani in court311. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger)

 
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Singer Margalit Tzanani is to remain in custody for another four days, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s court ruled on Monday morning.

This is the second time Tzanani’s detention has been extended. The popular singer has been in custody since August 16, during an ongoing police investigation into suspicions that she asked mobsters from the Mullner crime family to collect an unpaid debt from her manager, Assaf Atadegi.

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Police commander attorney Avi Aharak, who requested Tzanani’s extended detention on behalf of the state, told the court that since the last hearing, a “significant development” has been made in the case, including new evidence against the singer.

That evidence was presented to the court in the form of a confidential report.

Aharak requested Tzanani be held in custody for another four days in order for the investigation to be concluded.

During a lengthy cross examination, Tzanani’s defense lawyer, Shahar Hatzroni, asked Aharak whether Tzanani had been arrested only because she was famous.

Aharak said she had not, and confirmed that Tzanani had been questioned yesterday until 10 p.m.

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“The facts were put before her and she was told that [the charge against her] was extortion,” said Aharak. “The person who was extorted was Assaf Atadegi.”

Aharak also confirmed the extortion had taken place over a period of several months.

Hatzroni denied Tzanani had been involved in extortion against her agent, Atadegi.

Referring to the wiretaps made of the singer’s phone calls, Hatzroni said Tzanani had “maybe spoken in a not very nice way” about Atadegi.

“And you want to take that and stick it [on her] as extortion,” Hatzroni told Aharak.

Hatzroni also said Atadegi had given more than one version of his testimony.

“Atadegi told you that after all these ‘extortions’ he met Tzanani, hugged her and went to the Beersheba tent protest event with her,” he said.

Aharak replied that while this was true, it did not prove that Tzanani had not extorted Atadegi.

“I regret that [Tzanani’s defense] are portraying her as an unfortunate, small woman,” said Aharak. “She is neither unfortunate nor small and she is suspected of the most serious offenses that carry a penalty of seven or more years’ imprisonment.”

Aharak emphasized the confidential report contains a large amount of evidence against Tzanani.

In requesting that Tzanani be released to house arrest, Hatzroni called her a “cultural asset” who has been humiliated by “nonsense published in the papers day after day.”

Tzanani’s defense team also complained about what it alleges are leaked prison pictures of the singer, which show her with her prisoner number.

Aharak said the photographs must have been leaked by the Prisons Service, and not by the police.

In ruling that Tzanani will remain in detention for four more days, Judge Ita Nahaman said based on the investigation reports, she was satisfied there was reasonable suspicion the singer is involved in the offenses she is suspected of.

The judge said Tzanani’s detention was necessary for police to continue the investigation against her.

The decision to extend Tzanani’s remand comes a day after the Central District Court ruled the other three suspects remanded in connection with the case – Tzanani’s son, Assaf Lavi-Tzanani, and two alleged members of the Mullner crime family, Michael Hazan and Ofer Amar, would also remain in custody for several more days.

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