AG: Police Can Quiz Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger

Danziger is expected to be questioned in connection with investigation conducted against Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani on suspicion of bribery and other crimes.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein recently gave the Israel Police permission to conduct an "examination" of the circumstances surrounding the employment of Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger, a private attorney during the period in question, by the Bat Yam municipality. Danziger is expected to be questioned in connection with the investigation being conducted against Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani and senior Bat Yam municipal officials on suspicion of bribery and other crimes.

Police investigators believe they have sufficient evidence to charge Lahiani with bribery, breach of trust and moneyl aundering. Danziger was Lahiani's personal attorney for about 20 years and represented the Bat Yam municipality as well.

Danziger yesterday firmly rejected suggestions that he was or is Lahiani's partner. But a February 2008 investigation carried out by Haim Rivlin for the "Uvda" investigative television program revealed that Danziger and his former law partner Dori Klagsbald were involved in a transaction involving a parcel of farmland in western Netanya. As part of the deal, they requested compensation from the Israel Lands Administration related to the rezoning of the land from agricultural to residential use.

Lahiani purchased the land in 1995 on behalf of Danziger, Klagsbald and a real estate development company which he partially owned. Lahiani conducted protracted negotiations with the state agency in an effort to be recognized as eligible for compensation, but the ILA rejected his request.

Klagsbald declined comment yesterday. Lahiani did not return calls from Haaretz. Courts spokeswoman Ayelet Pilo said in a statement yesterday that while Danziger has known Lahiani for more than 20 years and represented him in various legal matters, "Justice Danziger is not and has never been the partner of Mr. Shlomi Lahiani. Between 2005-2007 [prior to Danziger's Supreme Court appointment] the law office Danziger Klagsbald and Co. handled a number of legal matters for the Bat Yam municipality. Justice Danziger is unaware of any problem having to do with the municipality's hiring of his firm's services."

About three months ago, the Israel Police asked Weinstein to approve an examination of the municipality's relationship with Danziger and the law firm he headed prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court bench. The law firm has since been dissolved.