Gavel from Reuters 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
The trial of Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gafsou and his former top deputy, Adi
Barko, on bribery and fraud charges began Wednesday before Haifa District Court
Judge Oded Gershon.
According to the indictment, after the 2008 municipal
elections, Gafsou and Barko had received what constituted a bribe by
conditioning the completion of a financial transaction which City Council member
Samyoun Brown was involved in on his resigning from the council.
is also accused of accepting financial bribes from the head of the Ramle- Lod
market in exchange for certain privileges.
The indictment also accuses
Gafsou of bribing various persons to support his election by promising them jobs
with the municipality after his election, as well as executing a secret
coalition agreement with another local party in violation of election
“The casting of severe criminal suspicion against Mr. Gafsou reduces
the public’s confidence in the Upper Nazareth Municipality’s institutions and in
public service in general,” said attorney Nidal Hiyak of the Movement for
“The continuation of Mr. Gafsou as mayor will lead to
a noticeable erosion of the public’s confidence.”
indictment and shortly before the October 2013 municipal elections, Gafsou was
fired by the High Court of Justice, along with two other indicted mayors, Ramat
Hasharon’s Yitzchak Rochberger and Bat Yam’s Shlomo Lahiani.
High Court left open the possibility of Gafsou running for reelection and he won
by a landslide, despite the bad press associated with the indictment and his
Soon after the election, the NGO Ometz filed a petition with the
High Court to refire Gafsou. But on December 18, 2013, the Knesset approved a
law which provides for suspending mayors under indictment under certain
circumstances, which may obviate the petition.