Jerusalem Police bust public bribery scam

Jerusalem police on Tuesday arrested eight people, including senior state and city officials, suspected of receiving hundreds of thousands dollars in bribes, police said. Senior officials at the Israel Lands Authority, the Custodian General's Office and the head of the Jerusalem Municipality's property tax division for east Jerusalem were among those arrested. The undercover police investigation began in the wake of a complaint that city and state government officials were taking bribes in exchange for various illicit services they performed in their offices involving forgery and falsification of public documents, canceling or freezing city demolition orders, and the reduction of public debt. An undercover agent, a lawyer by training, caught the suspects red-handed by contacting them on behalf of alleged clients interested in their "for-pay" services, and then bribing them, police said in a press release on the case. Police added that they have "firm" evidence against the eight suspects. Yigal Gabbai of the Israel Lands Authority, Meir Nadav of the Custodian General's Office and Mohammed Muhssein of the Jerusalem Municipality were named as suspects. A senior Palestinian Authority official was also arrested in the scam. The suspects were brought to a Jerusalem court Tuesday for a remand hearing. Several of them deny the allegations against them. A court gag order which had been imposed on the case at the police's request was lifted Tuesday. The Justice Ministry's police investigation department has arrested a border police officer and a former Interior Ministry official who police believe were also involved in the scam.