Petah Tikva mayor released to house arrest amid bribery suspicions

Court rejects police request to ban Rami Greenberg from municipal duties for 45 days

Petah Tikva mayor Rami Greenberg on December 5 2017. (Rami Greenberg/ Wikipedia CC-BY-4.0)
Petah Tikva mayor Rami Greenberg on December 5 2017. (Rami Greenberg/ Wikipedia CC-BY-4.0)

Petah Tikva Mayor Rami Greenberg, who was arrested last week on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, was released to house arrest on Thursday.

Police had asked the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court court to ban Greenberg from resuming his duties as mayor for 45 days, but the judge rejected the request.

“When it comes to managing the municipality, I did not find cause to prevent the defendant from doing so as I was not presented with reasonable suspicion pointing to the defendant committing a crime related to his role [as mayor] while serving in the position,” the presiding judge wrote in his ruling.

The judge prohibited Greenberg from leaving the country for 180 days and from contacting other individuals involved in the case against him. He will remain under house arrest for eight days and will then resume his duties as mayor.

Petah Tikva municipality director Yaniv Benita and two businesspeople linked to Greenberg, who were arrested along with the mayor, were also expected to be released Thursday.

The police anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 began its investigation after the 2018 municipal elections, with suspicions that hundreds of thousands of shekels had been transferred to the mayor at the time in the form of campaign funds.

In exchange, Greenberg is suspected of having agreed to provide financial favors to the donors in the wake of his election victory.

His arrest last week came after police said they had obtained information on two phone calls made by Greenberg that proved he was attempting to obstruct the investigation into him.

According to an Israel Hayom report, during a court hearing on extending Greenberg’s arrest, his lawyer, Ofer Bartal, claimed that police were attempting to pressure the mayor by placing him in custody together with fleas and ticks.

“It’s unfortunate that the Israel Police is unable to provide basic conditions for [defendants] in 2022. I ask that the court take this into consideration because it is simply unacceptable.”

A clip published by Channel 12 on Monday showed Greenberg apparently accepting a stack of cash from a local businessman allegedly involved in his corruption case.

The network said that the man seen counting out the money and handing it to Greenberg is involved in the case against the mayor, but did not identify him or elaborate further.

Petah Tikva Mayor Rami Greenberg is filmed apparently receiving a stack of cash in a clip released on August 14, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

Greenberg was detained in July on suspicion of corruption in a separate case, in which he allegedly withheld municipal funding from institutions that were entitled to it unless they fired or ousted officials that he considered his opponents, as well as their family members, from key positions.

At the time, Greenberg denied the allegations against him and railed against “intrigues” and “hatred” in the public service he claimed had led unidentified individuals to attempt to topple him.

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