A-G: Lahiani unfit to run for reelection, but no way to stop him

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein says indictment against Lahiani even “more severe” than the recent indictments against the mayors of Nazareth Ilit and Ramat Hasharon.

Shlomo Lahiani bat yam mayor 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Shlomo Lahiani bat yam mayor 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday responded to a petition to the High Court of Justice to fire Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani and disqualify him from running for reelection.
Weinstein stated that Lahiani is “unfit” to “run for reelection, but there is no legal way to stop” him. The petition was filed by OMETZ, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
Weinstein said that the indictment against Lahiani, filed on October 1, was even “more severe” than the recent indictments against the mayors of Upper Nazareth and Ramat Hasharon.
In a recent mixed decision by the High Court, both mayors were forced to step down only weeks before elections, but were still permitted to run for reelection.
The High Court’s rationale for compelling the mayors to step down was based on an interpretation of the potentially applicable laws expanding a trend to make public officials step down if they have sufficiently severe charges filed against them.
At the same time, the High Court had said that the Knesset simply had not legislated a rule prohibiting persons indicted for a crime to run for election, prohibiting only those convicted of crimes carrying a finding of moral turpitude.
Weinstein explained his rationale, that neither he nor OMETZ has a “legal” way to stop Lahiani from running as a function of the court’s recent decision and its clarification that, absent a conviction with moral turpitude, there is no bar for running for office.
The attorney-general said he hoped that the Bat Yam City Council would take action against Lahiani, as they had legislative power to remove him even without a court decision.
Lahiani is suspected of taking between NIS 800-NIS 900,000 in bribes, starting in 2005, to advance the interests of local businessmen in Bat Yam and asking nine municipality employees to take bank loans and transfer the money to him.
Lahiani is also accused of a conflict of interest for holding partial ownership in a local newspaper from which the Bat Yam municipality bought advertising space.
Prior to the indictment, Lahiani was a highly popular mayor and was credited with a level of revitalization of Bat Yam.