Tzanani ‘central player’ in extortion case, say police

Cops say they’ve learned new details, reports say TV presenter questioned over affair.

August 24, 2011 03:49
2 minute read.
Margalit Tzanani in court

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

Police have revealed additional details about a major investigation into singer Margalit Tzanani, whose appeal against her ongoing custody was rejected on Tuesday by the Petah Tikva District Court.

The details came as reports said that a well known music television host was questioned as part of the investigation.

Police have refused to comment on the reports.

Tzanani is suspected of turning to acquaintances from the organized crime world to extort and threaten her agent over a financial dispute. She denies the suspicions.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Tzanani’s attorney, Shahar Hatzroni, said, “On the bench of the accused sits a suspect...who has no criminal past, and who until today has played a positive role, and who honestly paved her way [as a singer]. In one day, she is arrested, and today we find ourselves in a second custody hearing.”

Hatzroni said police suspicions that Tzanani’s release would lead to a disruption of the investigation was unfounded, and suggested that she be released to house arrest, and be monitored with an electronic tag.

Responding to the appeal, police representative Asst.- Cmdr. Alon Grossman said Tzanani’s role in the affair “is viewed as central by police.

We view her as the main player in carrying out ongoing extortion, and who activated those who extorted [her agent].”

Grossman added, “She updated them throughout [the affair] about the effects of the extortion on [her agent Assaf] Atadegi, and demanded that various acts be carried out to further the extortion.

She’s the one who also lowered the level of pressure and threats according to her needs, and of course, without Atadegi’s knowledge.” Police said Atadegi did not know that the singer he was representing was allegedly orchestrating the threats from organized crime members.

The police representative added that Tzanani was “aware of the effects [of the threats] on Atadegi... and decided [together with the other suspects] how to proceed.

She knows who those criminals are tied to, when they get released from prison, and remains in touch with them, which is not an offense, that’s her right... [but] the acts we uncovered from the investigation are viewed by us as criminal offenses.”

Grossman said police were aware of the singer’s “clean history” and her being “a cultural asset to Israel... and my friends may be surprised to know that we also have feelings of sympathy, but together with that, we are doing our jobs and completing the investigation.”

After hearing the appeal, Judge Avraham Tal said the evidence he was shown “raises a reasonable suspicion that the suspect carried out the acts attributed to them... and that they are sufficient to lead to a suspicion that the investigation would be disrupted if she was released before the investigation made significant progress.” The judge rejected Tzanani’s appeal to be released.

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