Rishon Lezion Magistrates’ Court ruled yesterday that Yisrael Zinger, the mayor of Ramat Gan, would be barred from all municipality activities for six more days. Zinger has been barred from the municipality since his arrest two and a half weeks ago. He is suspected of having received bribes, receiving an item under fraudulent pretenses, election-funding offenses, money-laundering, fraud and breach of trust.
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The court’s previous ruling barred Zinger from the Ramat Gan municipality and provided no additional details. As a result, Zinger was not permitted to enter the municipality building, but continued running the city’s affairs and was in contact with senior municipality officials. Earlier this week, Zinger even assembled the city management and the municipal council in other buildings to approve the municipality’s budget for next year, among other things. Police are now insisting that Zinger be barred from any activity in the municipality and that he be forbidden to be in contact with municipality workers.
Judge Menahem Mizrahi granted the police’s request, stating: “The conditions of the suspension are both physical, from any institution of the Ramat Gan municipality, and from activities connected with the work of the Ramat Gan municipality.” Mizrahi rejected the police’s request to keep Zinger away from the municipality for 60 days, but did so for six.
Mizrahi noted that the only justification for keeping Zinger away from the municipality was the police’s need to collect testimony from eight other municipality workers. “With all the understanding for the great burden that is imposed on the investigative unit, it was given many days to do that work,” the judge said, adding that the police could carry out the investigative work “within a few days, and there is no need for 60 days, as it requested. It should be borne in mind that despite the understanding and the need to carry out a full investigation, the suspects are in a situation in which their livelihood has been compromised, and the proper management of the municipality has also been compromised, with all that means.”
Police representative Supt. Danny Yoffe expressed suspicion during the hearing that the investigation might be disrupted if Zinger was not kept away from every activity. “Even if the same activities take place outside the municipality’s official institutions, his very presence and involvement in those activities preserve his status as the one who pulls the strings and could intimidate the workers,” he said.
Yoffe added, “The defendant’s job touches directly upon what we are investigating. Even if the suspect holds his conferences and meetings outside the municipality’s official buildings, there is still a danger that the investigation could be disrupted.” He criticized Zinger’s behavior, saying, “As far as we are concerned, the defendant’s actions show that he has no respect for the law and that he cannot be trusted.”
Attorney Yinnon Sartel, who is representing Zinger, criticized the police’s request. “It is now 18 days since the beginning of the investigation,” he said. “That is a long time to question all the employees in the municipality. Since Wednesday, the mayor has not been questioned even once. Most of the allegations against him were not presented to him because of another affair. He was not forbidden to contact other workers.”