Lawmaker David Bitan of Likud was indicted on Monday for accepting bribes, fraud, money laundering and breach of trust in seven affairs, after he announced he would not ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution. Last month, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his decision to indict Bitan for receiving 715,000 shekels in bribes.
Mendelblit’s statement in early July said: “Between 2011 and 2017, Bitan received benefits from a number of contractors and stakeholders of a total sum of hundreds of thousands of shekels. In exchange for these benefits, Bitan worked to promote their interests as part of his public roles, while using his position, contacts and influence in local and national governments.”
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The witness list for Bitan’s trial has 406 names, including other lawmakers and public figures.
Last week, Bitan announced he would not ask the Knesset for immunity. His lawyers said he would face the charges in court, with full confidence that at the end of the legal proceedings it will be determined that he did nothing wrong and his named will be cleared.
The investigation concluded that Bitan received bribes from several businessmen, in most cases through a friend – now one of the prosecution’s two key witnesses – and in return promoted their interests at the Rishon Letzion and Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipalities and at government offices. Most charges are tied to his time as a Knesset member.
A contractor, Moshe Yosef, who allegedly offered Bitan bribes is also expected to be a key witness in the trial. Most of the money was paid to Bitan via Yosef. The indictment, filed in Central District Court in Lod, called the partnership between the two “a criminal partnership in a long list of bribery affairs” since 2013.
Another 10 people are expected to stand trial along with Bitan in the case.
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Mendelblit informed Bitan a year and a half ago of his intention to file the indictments against him, pending a hearing. The hearing was held in September.