The son of late politician Binyamin Ben-Eliezer claimed Tuesday that a police investigation into alleged corruption by his father led to the downturn in his health that caused his death Sunday at the age of 80.
Ofir Ben-Eliezer, who lives in the US, is thought to be a person of interest in the investigation into alleged bribe-taking by the former defense minister and did not attend his father’s funeral earlier Tuesday for fear of being detained by police.
Speaking to Channel 2 by video chat, Ofir Ben-Eliezer charged the years-long police investigation “made my life a living hell and caused my father’s sickness.”
“We all know the investigation and its management was unsuccessful. They wasted a lot of time, and as a result they buried by father,” he said.
“I am completely convinced they buried my father. Absolutely. They made my father sick,” he said.
On Monday, police said they would not arrest Ben-Eliezer if he returned to Israel for his father’s funeral and would also stay away during the traditional week-long mourning period. However, they declined to say what action would be taken against him once the mourning period was over, and analysts speculated that he would likely be questioned and then arrested.
Ben-Eliezer the son was questioned by the FBI in June following a request from the Israeli judiciary. Based on the outcome of that grilling, Israel Police summoned Ofir for questioning in Israel. He failed to appear, leading to an arrest warrant being issued against him.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, known affectionately in Israel by his nickname Fuad, ran for president in 2014 and was considered a strong candidate for the largely ceremonial post — usually reserved for well-liked politicians at the twilight of their careers — before being forced to drop out when graft allegations arose.
Criminal proceedings against Ben-Eliezer began in January 2015, when the attorney general at the time, Yehuda Weinstein, accepted a police recommendation to indict the politician and 10 of his associates.
Ben-Eliezer was indicted in December by state prosecutors for allegedly demanding and receiving more than NIS 2 million (over $500,000) from business people in exchange for actions he allegedly took as a public servant.
In May, state prosecutors offered Ben-Eliezer a plea bargain aimed at punishing the octogenarian without forcing him to serve time in prison. He was offered the option of paying an NIS 11 million ($2.86 million) fine in exchange for no prison time.