Kalansuwa mayor to be released to house arrest

Mahmoud Hadija faces trial for blackmail, fraud and bribery, denies all the charges against him.

Kalansawa shooting police 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Kalansawa shooting police 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Central District Court in Petah Tikva on Thursday accepted a recommendation by the Supreme Court to release Kalansuwa Mayor Mahmoud Hadija to house arrest.
Hadija was remanded in custody in July following his indictment on charges of blackmail, fraud, bribery and breach of trust relating to his role of mayor of the central Arab town.
According to the indictment against Hadija, the prosecution charged that he attempted to blackmail a city council member, Iyad Marai, with whom he had a dispute.
Together with his municipal adviser, Hadija organized a honey trap for Marai, whereby he was photographed in a compromising situation with a woman.
It is alleged that Hadija then tried to use the photographs to blackmail Marai into voting for him.
In another charge, it is alleged that Hadija slapped a council member and threatened to cause him bodily harm.
Hadija is also charged with taking bribes and defrauding the municipality of NIS 67,000 to pay for a private protection system to be installed in his home.
The Kalansuwa mayor was arrested and charged following a covert police operation culminating in a raid on Kalansuwa City Hall in June.
Hadija appealed to the Supreme Court against a ruling to remand him in custody for the duration of the trial against him. Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levi ruled on Wednesday that Hadija be allowed to ask the District Court to be released on house arrest, under certain conditions including that Hadija remain at least 60 kilometers from Kalansuwa.
In Thursday’s District Court ruling, Judge Ruth Lorch decided to release Hadija to house arrest in an apartment rented by his family in Nazareth.
According to the conditions of the house arrest, Hadija is required to pay a cash bond of NIS 60,000 and be electronically tagged. He is also prohibited from entering Kalansuwa or communicating in any way with anyone apart from four people designated to supervise him.
State Attorney Liran Sheetrit said the state intends to appeal against the decision to release Hadija to house arrest.
Hadija will remain in custody until Friday afternoon, when that appeal will be lodged.
Meanwhile, Hadija continues to deny all the charges against him.
In an interview with Arabic language website Kalansuwa Online on Thursday, Ashraf Khatib, director general of the Kalansuwa municipality, passed on a message from Hadija.
“The mayor said that he had nothing to do with the charges and that he will continue to work according to the law and with the utmost honesty to develop the city,” Khatib said.
According to Khatib, Hadija is to retain his position as mayor during his house arrest, although he has been banned from entering the city or communicating with anyone there.
Violence involving city officials has plagued Kalansuwa in past months. In April, the previous director general of the Kalansuwa Municipality, Viam Zamiro, was shot dead in the city’s center.
Last October, Zamiro’s brother was shot and wounded in a drive-by shooting near a crowded cafe, also in the city center. That same shooting also claimed the life of mayor Hadija’s brother Saadi Hadija, whom detectives postulated might have been the target of the hit.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.