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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Israeli crime boss Shalom Domrani released to house arrest

In a setback for the police, a court yesterday released suspected organized crime boss Shalom Domrani, as well as the other suspects in a case of alleged extortion of a Netivot rabbi.

Police suspect that Domrani and his colleagues, together with Rabbi Yoram Abergel, extorted Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Ifergan in an attempt to influence the results of last month’s municipal elections in Netivot. Ifergan is better known by his nickname, the X-Ray Rabbi.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court allowed police to hold Domrani and the other suspects for 10 days while they pursued their investigation. But yesterday, Judge Menahem Mizrahi ordered that they be released from jail, though they will remain under house arrest for the next two weeks.

“You can’t arrest someone just because of his reputation,” Mizrahi wrote. “There are clear rules, including the existence of evidence, progress in the investigation and a clear reason for the arrest.”

Domrani’s arrest came at a time when police were under public pressure to do something about organized crime, due to a series of suspected underworld bombings that climaxed in the bombing of a senior prosecutor’s car in Tel Aviv. 

Several other suspected organized crime figures were arrested at about the same time, and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch even announced Domrani’s arrest during a live broadcast on Channel 2 television. But critics warned at the time that many of these arrests were premature, and so far, most of those arrested have been released.

Police said they intend to appeal yesterday’s ruling, but added that in any case, a decision to release a suspect from arrest says nothing about the final outcome of the investigation.

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