In a blow to the prosecution, a magistrate's court judge Tuesday permitted Kiryat Malakhi Mayor Motti Malka to resume his mayoral duties despite suspicions against him of rape, extortion by threat, bribery and breach of trust.

Judge Rafi Aranya of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court said there were "more than a few question marks," about whether charges will even be filed against the defendants in the case. Malka and several others were arrested in May for various allegations. He has since been either behind bars or under house arrest. Amongst the other suspects are Deputy Mayor Yosef Sulimani, also suspected of rape and attempted rape, and Malka's son Shahar, who is accused of extorting a municipal council member.

A police representative asked the judge for additional time to pursue the investigation, but Aranya said law enforcement officials have had enough time to complete the investigation, which he said was, on the face of it, relatively simple.

Aranya also said substantial weight should be accorded to the defendants' official positions and their impact on the lives of Kiryat Malakhi's residents.

Malka is suspected of raping and harassing a municipal employee after their consensual affair ended in May 2010. He is also suspected of having received sexual favors from another woman, a single mother, in return for a discount on her municipal taxes. In addition, authorities believe the mayor took bribes from building contractors, including one instance in which he was allegedly given an apartment in return for favors.

Malka's attorney, Avi Himi, said his client was satisfied with the judge's decision. Himi also expressed confidence that the prosecutor's office would analyze the evidence in the case in a professional manner and ultimately decide not to indict the mayor.