Man Who Testified Against Bat Yam Mayor Says Bomb Meant to Scare Him

A small bomb exploded late Sunday night near the door of a man who recently testified against Bat Yam mayor Shlomo Lahiani.

A small bomb exploded late Sunday night near the door of a man who recently testified against Bat Yam mayor Shlomo Lahiani.

The bomb, set near the door of the Bat Yam home of Meir Dagan, caused slight property damage.

Dagan and his son Nir testified against Lahiani and his brother, Avi, in an investigation against Lahiani, some of his relatives and a group of senior officials in the Bat Yam municipality.

Lahiani is suspected of several offenses, including bribery and breach of trust. Some of his relatives and senior city officials have been questioned under warning on suspicion of wrongdoing.

Dagan, a retiree in his late 70s, told Haaretz yesterday that he believed the bomb was meant to frighten him and his family.

"I took it into consideration. I expected that something like this could happen," Dagan said.

"It was a real bomb, with nails and balls, that did a lot of damage," Dagan said. "Everything was covered with smoke. The police know everything. Anyone would be afraid. But now we are being guarded."

Police said they have no indication at this point of any involvement by Lahiani or anyone connected to him. Police said any attempt to connect Lahiani to the bomb "was journalistic speculation unconnected to reality."

However, the incident is being investigated by the police's economic crimes unit, which is also investigating the Lahiani affair. Police are also looking into the possibility the bomb was meant to go off near the door of an income tax inspector who lives in the building.

Lahiani did not respond yesterday.

This month, police recommended trying Lahiani and a number of other senior officials for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Among the officials are municipality director general Ovad Koneh, deputy mayor Uri Buskila and deputy municipality director general Erez Podamsky.

They are suspected of having taken personal bank loans at Lahiani's request of NIS 50,000 each to cover Lahiani's debts, in exchange for Lahiani's having promoted them or allowing them to keep their jobs within the municipality.

Most of the officials questioned admitted that they did take loans for Lahiani at his request.

In addition to fraud and breach of trust, Lahiani is suspected of graft, income tax evasion and money-laundering.

One of the affairs that led the police to recommend charging Lahiani stems from his 45-percent stake in a local newspaper. According to police, since Lahiani became mayor, the city has bought hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of ads in the paper.