CHIEF RABBI Yona Metzger 370.
(photo credit: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)
The Rehovot Magistrate’s Court released to house arrest on Sunday a former
driver and top aide to Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger in the ongoing bribery
case against Metzger and two others.
Held in custody for over a week, and
for longer than any of the other defendants, Haim Nissan Eisenshtat will be
placed under house arrest for a minimum of 15 days, pending the filing of an
Eisenshtat will be prohibited from interacting with anyone
but immediate family during that time and must hand over his passport to prevent
him from leaving the country.
Further, Eisenshaft and two guarantors must
deposit NIS 50,000 before he can be released to house arrest, which the police
can confiscate if he goes on the run.
The case has nearly brought down
the chief rabbi, his aide and two others on bribery, money-laundering and fraud
The two other suspects – Simcha Karkovsky, manager of the
Beit Hatavshil charity in Bnei Brak, and Rabbi Nissan Ben- Zion Zioni, head of a
study hall and rabbinical school in Tel Aviv – had been in police custody, but
were both released to house arrest earlier than Eisenshaft, suggesting that the
driver is more at the center of the alleged scandal.
The decision comes
following a successful appeal last week by the three men to the Lod District
Court, in which it overruled the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court’s earlier
decision extending the suspects detention.
The Lod Court said that the
police would be able to complete their investigation earlier than originally
Metzger remains under house arrest and last week, he suspended
himself from most major duties, pending completion of the case. In 2005, a
bribery, fraud, and breach of trust case was opened against him, but
then-attorney-general Menahem Mazuz decided to close the case in April 2006. At
the time, Mazuz said he was disturbed by revelations about how Metzger behaved
during the investigation and called for the rabbi to resign.