A string of serious personal allegations regarding the conduct of a Knesset member is coming to light in the libel case filed by MK Oren Hazan (Likud) against Channel 2 journalist Amit Segal. These include claims that the MK consumed hard drugs, ordered prostitutes for casino clients and frequented strip clubs.
Hazan sued Segal for libel in 2015 following the latter’s investigative report, according to which Hazan had provided escorts for clients in the casino he ran in Burgas, Bulgaria. Segal presented the court with a detailed affidavit this week, in which he related his findings. He also added other affidavits by people who knew Hazan or who had worked with him and could testify as to his conduct.
Segal was obliged to submit open affidavits ahead of the fact-determining phase of the trial after the court rejected his lawyers’ request to enable witnesses to testify in closed sessions.
One affidavit was by Vladimir Timialov, who claims that he was the professional manager at the casino in which Hazan was the general manager. He said that he was the one who introduced Hazan to the Red Rose strip club, from where prostitution services were solicited for Hazan’s casino clients.
“During the course of my work there were several occasions on which Hazan sent his driver to bring some strippers-escorts from the club. As far as I know Hazan paid the driver for these girls. The money went to the club’s Madame, Sonya, based on the financial arrangement the two of them had,” he said.
In his affidavit Segal states that he’s obtained several documents and email exchanges in which Hazan is presented as the manager of the company operating the casino. Another affidavit is by A. (the full name appears in the statement), who claims he worked at the casino. Even before working at the casino A. said that on a visit to Burgas “my friends and I, accompanied by Hazan, purchased some crystal meth from a street dealer. We then went to our hotel room and snorted it. I remember seeing Hazan snorting it.”
A. also confirmed that Hazan had ordered call girls for his clients at the casino.
Another affidavit is by T. (full name in the affidavit), who also worked at the casino. He testified that Hazan had promised that if he brought a hefty client to the casino, the casino would see to all his wishes, including ordering escorts. “I remember at least one occasion on which Hazan offered that I come with him to the strip club and another on which he brought strippers to the casino,” he said.
Segal published his investigative report dealing with Hazan’s conduct in Bulgaria in June 2015. The report, which evoked a public outcry, included testimonies according to which Hazan had provided escorts for guests of the casino he operated in Burgas. Hazan denied these allegations and in response sued for libel, asking for one million shekels in damages.
Later, Hazan submitted an affidavit in which he confirmed that he’d visited strip clubs in Bulgaria a few times, in order to “share a beer with friends.” However, he claimed that he had never ordered escorts and had not provided these for guests of the casino he ran in Bulgaria. With regard to drugs, Hazan said he had been present while some friends used them 13 years ago in South America, but that he’d never been present at a sale or solicitation of drugs. Personally, he had never smoked or consumed any drug, he stated, adding that his medical condition prevents him from smoking or snorting drugs.
In his affidavit, Segal claimed that Hazan has no good name, precluding any pretext for a libel suit. Segal detailed different reports of Hazan, such as his suspension as Knesset speaker, the recommendation to indict him for assaulting the director general of the Ariel municipality, different financial claims as well as a TV story in which some of the employees at a bar he owns complained of sexual harassment.
Following the filing of Segal’s affidavits Hazan’s attorneys can summon those who submitted them to testify and be cross-examined.
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