Thursday, February 10, 2011
Haifa chief rabbi to be tried for bribery
Rabbi She'ar Yishuv Cohen suspected of taking part in scheme that gave 1,500 security officers fake rabbi titles, swindling State out of millions
Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen was summoned for a hearing by the Jerusalem District's Prosecutor's Office on Thursday over alleged acts of bribery and falsifying corporate documents.
Cohen is suspected of taking part in the 'Rabbi Affair,' in which false rabbi titles were given to security forces personnel. With the cooperation of the Chief Rabbinate Examinations Department, senior rabbis issued fake diplomas stating that that the recipients completed five years of higher religious education, even though they only completed one or two years of limited studies.
The recipients, who were employed by the police, army and Shin Bet, used the certificates to obtain raises. About 1,500 police and IDF officers participated in the scheme. Anywhere between NIS 2,000-4,000 ($544-1088) were added to their monthly wages, swindling the State out of hundreds of millions of shekels.
Cohen was investigated for taking part in the illegal activity following the unearthing of the affair in 2008. The suspicions against him touched upon a secondary case involving Ariel College, which Cohen headed. Despite the evidentiary basis that was established against him, the prosecution decided to close the case after Cohen announced he will resign from his post as chief rabbi of Haifa, and will no longer serve in public positions.
The prosecution was informed recently that the rabbi has remained in his post, and continues to serve in other public positions despite his pledge. Therefore, the prosecution decided to summon him for a hearing, after which charges will be filed against him.
"There aren't and never have been any grounds to try Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen in a criminal court," Cohen's attorney, Yaron Kostelitz, told Ynet. "It's unfortunate that the prosecution summons him again for a hearing after closing the case against him over a year ago."