MK Oren Hazan (Likud) told a court Wednesday he visited strip clubs in Bulgaria a few times to have drinks with friends but never solicited prostitutes or supplied prostitutes to clients of the casino he ran in the Balkan country.
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The admission appears in a statement in a lawsuit against Channel 2 reporter Amit Segal, following a news report last June claiming that Hazan had supplied prostitutes to casino visitors in the resort city of Burgas.
Hazan sued Segal for 1 million shekels ($266,880) for libel; he said there was “not a shred of truth” in the report, which he claimed had been made in bad faith as part of a media campaign against him. He had “not pimped, not paid for prostitutes for guests of the casino, not sold drugs and not used them.”
Through his lawyers, Segal submitted a list of questions and motions regarding Hazan’s work in Bulgaria. In his answers, Hazan said he had managed the Gold casino for a year and a half until May 2014 – though he had no permit to work in Bulgaria.
In his statement to the court, Hazan said he had visited the Red Rose strip club “on isolated occasions,” where he drank beer with friends. But he did not meet with the club’s manager, a woman named Sonia who appeared in Segal’s report, and did not order prostitution or stripping services.
Hazan said he had “heard gossip” that casino clients would book prostitutes, and received requests from casino clients for prostitution and stripping services – topics he said he did not deal with.
He also did not know that the casino handled such things, and he himself did not pay the club for prostitutes or send a driver to ferry prostitutes to casino clients, he said.
On alleged drug use, Hazan said he had been present when friends smoked drugs 13 years ago in South America but had not been present when drugs were sold or ordered. He said he had not smoked or used any drugs and could not smoke or snort drugs because of his medical condition. He does not smoke at all other than the odd water pipe, and he tried a cigar twice in his life, he said.
Regarding past events, Hazan admitted to sabotaging the car tires of Avi Benayahu, the former head of Army Radio, during Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005. But he said Segal had been harassing his family for years; for example, in 2003 allegedly falsely accusing his father, then a Knesset member, of double voting.
In his lawsuit, Hazan said that because of Segal’s report, he was no longer welcome at the home of his girlfriend’s family. In his statement to the court, he said he and his girlfriend had broken up, “to the satisfaction of her associates.”
He said his social life and that of his sister had been badly damaged, and his family had been exposed to “endless hassling and ridicule.” His medical condition had also worsened, he said.
Segal told the court that Hazan’s answers were not complete and that he had failed to produce necessary documents and information. For example, Hazan said he had forgotten the address of the hotel and the name of its owners.
Addressing this claim, the court ruled that Hazan’s answers were “evasive” and ordered him to answer the questions in full within a week.
Hazan will also have to provide full details on a business dispute between his father and relatives, and on his medical condition. But he will not have to provide Segal with further documents.