Israeli Singer Accused of Extortion Has Remand Extended by Six Days

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A Rishon Letzion court extended the detention of top Israeli singer Margalit Tzan’ani, who is being held by police on suspicion of blackmail and of threatening her manager, by six days on Wednesday.

The court first ruled that Tzan'ani's remand will be extended by nine days, but later shortened the period to six days.The decision to extend the detention came as a surprise, as Tzan’ani has no criminal record, and is cooperating with investigations. It may be an indication that the charges against her are more solid than apologists had first thought.

Margalit Tzan’ani at the Be’er Sheva tent protest last week. Credit: Oren Ziv

Speaking in court, a police official described the case as “serious” and “indicative of the involvement of organized criminals in Israel’s entertainment industry.”

The police are expected to present a secret document on the case, and police sources claim that the investigation on Tzan’ani began following a complaint brought by her manager against her.

Judge Shirley Dekel Naveh of the Rishon Letzion court said that there was ”a serious suspicion that the suspect is involved in the charges brought against her."

However, Tzan’ani’s lawyer told Army Radio on Wednesday that, “Even if there were differences of opinion, they were resolved without the involvement of the people that are being talked about, and without criminal behavior on the part of my client. I believe she will be released with no conditions,”

Tzan'ani was arrested Tuesday morning for allegedly employing blackmail - using associates of convicted criminal Amir Mullner - to collect debts. She is currently being interrogated at the Economic Crime Prevention Unit in Lod.

Tzan'ani, known by her nickname Margol, is one of Israel's most loved and famous singers; she was a judge on the Israeli version of American Idol, "A Star is Born," for five of its nine seasons.

Police arrested and searched the houses of people allegedly linked to Mullner's crime organization, over suspicions that they committed various acts of blackmail on behalf of the singer. Police confiscated documents and assets connected to the incident, and the suspects are currently being interrogated.

Mullner's lawyer on Tuesday morning denied that there was a link between his client and Tzan'ani.

"I have never heard of connections between Mullner and the singer in question," he said. "My client has not even contacted me [with regards to the allegations]."

Tzan'ani recently made headlines when she criticized the social protest movement that has been sweeping Israel throughout the summer.

In a bid to make amends for her comments, which drew a furious response across Israel, she performed last weekend at a Be'er Sheva protest attended by 20,000 people.

"I was never against the protest," she told demonstrators. "I come from such places in the periphery. I came to support the people here...”

The Economic Crime Prevention Unit has been carrying out extensive investigations into Mullner's crime organization over the past week. Last week four people linked to Mullner were arrested on suspicion of striking a man over a parking dispute.

Mullner was released last month after serving a prison sentence of one year and nine months for connections with crimes and weapon possession. He was arrested alongside his associates after they were caught hiding a pistol, silencer and bullets in a water tank in the backyard of a house in Ramat Gan. It later emerged that these arrests were part of a broader range of police investigations into the organization.