NGO asks High Court to fire Upper Nazareth mayor upon indictment for bribery, fraud

Petition asks to blacklist Shimon Gapso from running for reelection in the upcoming fall municipal election.

Shimon Gapso 311 (photo credit: Courtesty)
Shimon Gapso 311
(photo credit: Courtesty)
The Movement for Quality of Government in Israel on Thursday filed a petition with the High Court of Justice to fire Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso due to his having been indicted for bribery, fraud and other financial crimes.
The petition asks that the court blacklist Gapso from running for reelection in the upcoming fall municipal election, as long as he is under indictment.
The filing follows the recent dethroning of Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar who, under pressure from a similar High Court petition, dropped out of the race for reelection, essentially meaning his 24-year reign will end in three months.
Also named as respondents to the petition were the City Council of Upper Nazareth and an Interior Ministry official responsible for that part of the country because both have potential roles in removing Gapso.
Next, the petition says that Gapso’s removal is justified since the accusations against him involve bribery specifically related to his alleged abuse of power as a public official.
The petition said that Gapso’s acts were grossly and inherently harmful to public confidence in public servants and public institutions, and that to maintain that confidence, he needed to be removed.
Gapso was indicted on June 17 for bribery, fraud, election-related bribery and breach of public trust.
According to the indictment, in 2008, Gapso, and another indicted City Council member, Adi Barko, conditioned the approval of a financial transaction on the resignation of another council member.
The indictment said that this kind of blackmail qualified as a “bribe.”
Gapso accepted actual financial bribes from the head of the Ramle-Lod market in order that they grant the person’s company certain privileges, said the indictment.
Next, the indictment said that Gapso bribed various persons to support his election by promising them jobs with the municipality after his nomination, and had executed a secret coalition agreement with another local party, breaking laws against secret agreements.
Attorney Nidal Hiyak of the Movement said that, “the rays of severe criminal suspicion against Mr. Gapso, reduce the public’s confidence in the Upper Nazareth’s Municipality’s institutions and in public service in general.” He continued, “the continuing of Mr. Gapso in the role of mayor will lead to a noticeable erosion of the public’s confidence.”