Gavel from Reuters 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
At the opening of his trial on corruption charges on Wednesday at the Tel Aviv
Magistrate’s Court, Ramat Hasharon Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger said he had
suspended himself as mayor.
Rochberger faces charges of fraud, breach of
trust and falsifying corporate documents.
The heart of the case against
Rochberger is the allegation that he falsified and substantially inflated
amounts for reimbursement that he requested for costs as part of a prior public
In court on Wednesday, Rochberger’s attorney Lior
Epstein questioned the prosecution about whether it was only accusing him of
inflating his reimbursement costs as part of his public service work, or whether
it alleged that he had no right to reimbursements at all due to the nature of
The prosecution responded that it needed some time to
consider Rochberger’s question, and the court gave it seven days. Witness
testimony for the trial was set for January 2014.
decision to temporarily suspend himself as mayor, Epstein noted “the defendant
has decided to announce his temporary suspension so that he can focus on the
Last week, Rochberger was reelected mayor of Ramat Hasharon
despite the corruption charges against him.
“I have asked my lawyer to
announce my decision in order to complete the process by January or February. I
start work on November 13, so it won’t be a great disaster if I take a month
off. My deputy will assume my responsibilities,” Channel 2 quoted Rochberger as
Rochberger made the announcement of his suspension outside the
courthouse, before his trial opened.
“I have no intention of criticizing
the legal system but rather to acknowledge its authority and to step aside
during the trial process,” he added.
“I think I have acted responsibly
and we have done nothing to obstruct procedures. I am confident that I will be
serving as Ramat Hasharon’s mayor for the next five years.”
Court ruled that Rochberger was to be removed a month before the last round of
local elections in October, in which he won a majority vote of 56 percent. While
the court did not formally prevent Rochberger from running for reelection, it
strongly recommended he refrain from doing so.
Interior Minister Gideon
Sa’ar is scheduled to issue a preliminary memorandum on a proposed bill next
week that will determine that a mayor facing serious charges can be suspended.