A 49-year-old Haifa man has been in custody for two weeks on suspicion of performing indecent acts and sodomy on seven Haifa-area youths. The Haifa Magistrate's Court on Wednesday lifted a gag order on the case and remanded the suspect in custody until next Sunday, when the prosecution expects to file formal charges.

The case has been under investigation for about a month, based on intelligence information. The police's youth division, under the command of Superintendent Avishai Haim, interviewed possible victims in the neighborhood in the southern part of the city, where the suspect resides. The man, publication of whose name is still banned by the court, was arrested two weeks ago on the basis of testimony from two teenagers. The gag order imposed at the time of the suspect's arrest two weeks ago was lifted only partially today.

According to investigators, the suspect would pick up teens he met by chance, take them to his home, play computer games and give them money before performing indecent acts and sodomy on them. To date, police are aware of seven victims in the 13-17 age range.

The suspect claimed during his court hearing that he was not sane, and was sent to the Tirat Hacarmel mental hospital for observation. According to the psychological report, he is able to stand trial. During his interrogation, he said that he knew the children from the neighborhood, but denied the accusations against him.

His attorney, Aviv Hoze of the public defender's office, noted that it was the first time his client had been accused of a criminal offense. “We're talking about a normal person and at this stage there is a gag order against publication of specifics about him. He categorically denies the accusations against him. I'm certain justice will be served,” Hoze said.