The police are calling for Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni to be banned permanently from the southern city’s municipality, due to overwhelming evidence and a potential indictment for sex crimes, bribe-taking and money laundering.
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From the moment Shimoni was arrested and the investigation into his actions went public in January, police said they suspected him of paying women – against whom he allegedly committed sex crimes over the years – for their silence.
However, as the investigation proceeded and suspicions started being backed up by evidence – not all of which has been made public – the police now say they want him banned from office permanently.
A previous temporary order banning Shimoni from the municipality is due to expire on Friday.
The police are not authorized to issue such a ban themselves. A decision on such matters is normally only made by a committee consisting of Interior Ministry officials after an indictment is served.
The police are seeking an order that not only bans Shimoni from his mayoral office permanently, but also prohibits him from dealing with any municipal affairs in the coastal city.
“Shimoni financed the payments [for the women’s silence] by bribes he took from contractors with interests in Ashkelon, in the framework of a complex system of money transfers,” the police told Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court yesterday as part of their request.
A police representative told the court that Shimoni had allegedly received more than 1 million shekels ($256,900) in bribes from contractors, in exchange for which he gave them various benefits and smoothed the path for them to receive construction permits.
The police are basing their request for his exclusion from mayoral office on their intent to issue criminal charges against Shimoni, as well as the likelihood that such an indictment will be served.
However, the investigation is still ongoing and the prosecution has yet to receive the case from the police.