Court Rejects Netanya Mayor's Appeal Against Arrest on Corruption Charges

Lod court says Feirberg's release may obstruct investigation, but shortens detention by one day.

Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg, July 2016.
David Bachar

The Lod District Court rejected Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg's appeal against her arrest on corruption suspicions, ruling that her release may obstruct the investigation against her. 

Feirberg was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust after several hours’ grilling by the police fraud squad. Four other suspects involved in multimillion-dollar real estate deals in the coastal city were also detained Wednesday.

The police investigation is focusing on Avraham Tshuva’s Coral real estate project. Tshuva is an old acquaintance of the mayor, who owns an apartment in the Coral. The apartment isn’t in her name but in the name of her trustee, Avraham Gugig, who was also one of the project’s lawyers.

In Thursday's hearing, Judge Erez Yekuel said that the material presented to him shows that there were reasonable suspicions tying Feirberg to the charges against her. However, he shortened her detention from six to five days due to the pace of the investigation.

An appeal against the arrest of Gugig was rejected. So was the appeal to release Fierberg's son Tzafrir, who interned in Gugig’s law firm. The detention of Gabi Tetro, the architect of the Coral, was shortened by three days. All three were arrested on Wednesday. 

Judge Amit Michles of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court said Wednesday that based on the evidence, top Netanya officials seem to have conspired to promote real estate projects in return for benefits worth millions of shekels.

Superintendent Elisha Kogan, who represented the police in court, said there is reasonable suspicion that Feirberg committed offenses such as taking bribes, fraud and money laundering. Feirberg is suspected, among other things, of taking bribes from contractor and developer Avraham Tshuva, brother of the tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva, he said.

Feirberg has been the mayor of Netanya for nearly two decades.

Feirberg’s former husband, Eli Feirberg, was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes on her behalf in exchange for advancing several projects, fraud and money laundering. His detention was extended by six days.

Another suspect in the case, Rabbi Shimon Sher, head of the city’s planning and construction sub-committee, allegedly took bribes in the form of donations. His detention was also extended for six days. A contractor whose name was not released for publication was arrested on suspicion of foul play in a project consisting of a luxury housing complex on the Netanya beach.

At least eight suspects have been in custody since Haaretz published an exposé six weeks ago which questioned Feirberg’s involvement in multimillion-dollar real estate deals. The deals were carried out by Feirberg and her son, together with Tshuva family developers.

The exposé examined the Feirberg family assets in construction projects headed by contractors from the Tshuva family and looked into the conduct of top city officials. Haaretz found that Feirberg had signed construction permits for projects in which she and her son owned assets.