Monday, May 30, 2005

AG Mazuz rejected a request by Ashkenazi Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger for a hearing on possible fraud charge


At 8:17 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The attorney for Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger says he had no role in paying for the disputed hotel stay.

Last update - 15:50 30/05/2005

AG denies hearing for chief rabbi on possible fraud charge

By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Monday rejected a request by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger for a hearing ahead of any decision on whether to indict him for fraud and breach of trust.

Metzger could face charges for allegedly staying with his family at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem for a minimal fee during Pesach 2004. During an investigation into the affair, police discovered that the Metzgers also allegedly received huge discounts at David Citadel during last year's Sukkot and Shavuot holidays, and enjoyed similarly discounted stays at other hotels.

A member of the attorney general's office, Raz Nizri, wrote to Metzger's defense attorney, Professor David Libai, informing him that the rabbi would only be granted a hearing should an indictment be brought against him, as "the attorney general is unable break with normal procedure." The attorney general's office also refused to hand over to Libai the results of the investigation against the rabbi.


Last week the police announced that there is clear procedure for placing the rabbi on trial for fraud and breach of trust.

"There is no dispute that the rabbi stayed at the hotel on a number of occasions," Libai wrote to Mazuz. "The question is who was responsible for the lack of payment and what the rabbi knew about it at the time. The rabbi was not personally involved in the booking of rooms, and was unaware of the price, nor did he personally take care of the payment."

Libai added that the rabbi had never asked for a deal to be made with the hotel, and never asked for or received anything via fraudulent means - neither from the owners of the hotel nor from the state treasury.

"If a bill remains that was not paid, this is not an issue for a criminal indictment against the chief rabbi, as there never was any criminal intention," argued Libai.

"What should have happened was for the matter of payment to have been brought to the rabbi's attention and then it would have been rectified."

According to the police, the David Citadel charged the Metzgers only about 75 percent of the full rate - and Metzger then paid only about half this sum. Internal hotel documents reveal that management approved the discounts in the hope that the chief rabbi's presence would attract other customers.

Police also suspect that Metzger intervened in the rental contract for the apartment to which any chief rabbi who lives outside the capital is entitled, with the result that the rabbinate paid far more for the apartment than it should have done. Police even found a document indicating that Metzger planned to use some of the excess rent money to finance hotel stays for his family, but they suspect that this document may be a forgery.

The investigation, which marked the first time a chief rabbi had ever been questioned by the police, began in October, after Channel 2 television published a report about the six-member Metzger family's stay at the David Citadel Hotel over Pesach last year. That report, basing itself on hotel records that listed the Metzgers' two rooms as "complimentary," alleged that the Metzgers had not paid for their rooms at all during their eight-day stay, but only for their meals.

Metzger was questioned by the police twice over the course of the investigation.


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