The Beersheba District Court on Thursday ordered alleged mob boss Shalom Domrani to be held in police custody until the end of his trial on charges of having illegally influenced the Netivot municipal elections, in a dramatic reversal of a prior lower court ruling to release him on bail.
While Domrani himself remained calm and unemotional during the hearing, his lawyer Moshe Sherman was livid, even briefly muttering disapproval while Judge Nasser Abu Taha had not finished reading his decision, and vowed an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Sherman, who appeared genuinely shocked after having hammered away at the prosecution's case in the prior hearing on the issue of bail, said that "the case is one of the most pathetic in Israeli history."
He added that, "last year Domrani was indicted on different charges and denied bail until we went to the Supreme Court, obtained bail, and eventually beat the charges – this time will be the same result."
The court said that the critical point was that Domrani's story, that he had just happen to visit Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan on election day and strictly at Ifergan's request, along with the other evidence against him, was to unbelievable at this pretrial stage.
In light of his pretrial view of the evidence, Judge Taha said that there was enough of a likelihood that Domrani had committed dangerous acts of threatening opposition campaign activists' lives and caused broad harm to the Netivot public regarding the election, that he must be held in custody until the end of his trial.
Domrani's lieutenant Mordechai Kastantini, also accused on threatening campaign activists, was also remanded to police custody until the end of the proceedings.
Earlier Thursday, Domrani's trial opened with his arraignment and with Sherman lecturing the prosecution for failing to produce evidence which it had promised and for failing to obtain a timely order of confidential privilege from the court regarding any "intelligence" evidence it was claiming it could not hand over to the defense.
Sherman also described an odd narrative in which he said the prosecution had told him it had new evidence that it would give him, but that when he sent an employee to copy the evidence, the employee was told that the evidence "could not be copied yet," with no real explanation.
He returned to his original argument that either the prosecution must get a order of confidential privilege or produce the evidence, and must stop playing games.
The prosecution promised to provide the new evidence to the defense quickly and the court scheduled Domrani's answer to the indictment for February 2014 and the trial for June 2014.
At the prior November hearing on the issue, with little direct evidence to prove its allegations that Domrani threatened various rabbis and political players to convince them not to campaign in Netivot on municipal election day, the prosecution had appeared nervous.
It performed an unusual extended analysis for a pretrial hearing on bail, trying to connect a large number of wiretapped conversations and events to show Domrani's dangerousness and guilt.
Sherman had made light of the prosecution's case and said that there should be no case based on the flimsy evidence, but that since the state wanted to try to nail Domrani, it decided that "the ends justify the means."
According to the indictment, Domrani threatened Rabbi Ya’acov Ifergan to cease his support of Eyal Masika in the Netivot municipal elections, as part of a conspiracy with Ifergan’s rabbinic rival, Rabbi Yoram Abergil, to advance candidate Yehiel Zohar.
Despite the absence of "smoking gun" evidence against Domrani and his claim that he just visited Ifergan to "make peace" or at Ifergan's request, the court decided to focus on its analysis of his alibi being unbelievable.