Barbivai suspends Kadima candidacy

Kiryat Shmona mayor indicted on charges of breach of trust and accepting bribes.

mayor haim barbivai 88 (photo credit: )
mayor haim barbivai 88
(photo credit: )
Kiryat Shmona mayor Haim Barbivai suspended his candidacy for the Kadima Knesset list on Tuesday afternoon pending the outcome of an investigation against him that has already resulted in an indictment. State Attorney Eran Shendar on Tuesday gave the green light for an indictment against Kiryat Shmona mayor Haim Barbivai on charges including taking a bribe for acts allegedly committed following the 2003 municipal elections. Barbivai, who joined Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party last week, is entitled to a hearing before the indictment is filed. According to the charges, when Barbivai won the 2003 election for mayor of Kiryat Shmona in a second-round runoff, he and the local Likud Party allegedly ran into financial trouble because of the costs of his campaign. As a result, Barbivai allegedly owed money to a printing company. In order to pay the debt, he asked for money from contractors and businessmen who needed his help and the help of the local planning and building council that he headed. Barbivai allegedly asked and even demanded that they make contributions to his campaign, although he knew he had asked for more money than he was allowed to receive according to the Local Authorities Law on campaign funding. Four of the five companies were not allowed to make election campaign contributions in the first place. In this way, Barbivai allegedly received tens of thousands of shekels to pay off his debts. He used many techniques to conceal the payments, such as having the businessmen pay the printing company directly and falsely claiming they owed it money. In addition, Barbivai allegedly submitted a false declaration to the State Comptroller regarding these payments. A Labor Party spokesman said in response to the indictment that every day it was becoming "clearer that the random group gathered around Sharon has nothing in common on diplomatic or economic issues. The only thing they share is a defect." "Apparently," the spokesman continued, "when Omri Sharon composed the Kadima list, the condition for acceptance was an indictment." On Monday, Givat Shmuel mayor Zamir Ben-Ari announced that he was quitting Likud and joining Kadima, but would not run for the Knesset. Ben-Ari is under investigation for allegedly accepting bribes.