Rishon Lezion mayor faces further questioning in corruption probe

David Bitan (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
David Bitan
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Zur was questioned for four hours on Wednesday in the municipal corruption case that has been dubbed “Case 1802.”
Zur is reportedly suspected on charges of bribery, fraud and breaches of trust. Dozens of municipality officials, businessmen, real-estate contractors and organized-crime figures are involved in the large-scale corruption probe.
Among them is former coalition chairman and Likud MK David Bitan, who resigned from his chairman post last week. His wife, Hagit, is also a suspect.
Bitan is suspected of accepting bribes, money laundering, fraud and breaches of trust, and was questioned on Sunday for five hours in his fourth round of questioning. Bitan exercised his right to remain silent during the questioning.
Police are suspecting that Bitan advanced the interests of organized crime figures, such as Hussam Jarushi, in exchange for assistance in erasing alleged debts to the criminal entities.
On Tuesday, Channel 2 News reported that Bitan will exercise his parliamentary immunity to prevent police from using wiretapping recordings of him that could allegedly incriminate him.
Sources close to Bitan were quoted as saying that “The laws regarding eavesdropping on Knesset members are very clear and firm, and we are convinced that there were wrongdoings [done in order] to get [the recordings].”
These associates also criticized the police’s attempt to recruit businessmen Moshe Yosef, who is considered close to Bitan and suspected in mediating bribe money to him, into being a state’s witness.
“What they’re [the police] is doing is just insane. They’re willing to let him go only to incriminate another one [Bitan],” a source said.
Media reports said that the police is currently in the advanced stages of closing a deal with Yosef. It was said that while he is unlikely to become a state’s witness, he will likely agree to a deal with them in which he confesses to mediating for bribery in return for a milder punishment.