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Israeli Interior Minister Embroiled in New Corruption Scandal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israel’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, pictured on May 19, 2015, when he was serving as economy minister. (AFP)

Tel Aviv – Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri sat for questioning for six consecutive hours for his connection to one of the greatest corruption scandals the state has seen in recent years.

The court has imposed a complete media blackout on the issue, but the police confirmed an investigation was ongoing involving a “public official and his wife.” It did not provide further details.

Public radio tweeted that Deri entered the offices of the police serious crimes and fraud unit with his wife Yaffa on Monday morning.

The couple were being interviewed in separate rooms.

Police were questioning another 14 suspects, including the director general of a government ministry. The minister and his wife were prevented from seeing a lawyer.

The Deris were expected to be asked, among other things, to explain how he financed real estate he bought in recent years, such as his house in Safsufa, a village in northern Israel.

A police statement confirmed the investigation, without identifying the suspects.

“This morning police detained 14 suspects from all over the country as part of an investigation conducted by the national unit for investigations and in cooperation with the Tax Authority,” it said.

“This investigation began in April 2016 based on suspicions of tax offenses mainly in the field of assets and was expanded to additional suspicions that expanded to other suspects, including a public official and his wife.”

Aryeh Deri founded the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party. He is considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He was previously sentenced to three years in prison for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in 2000 during his previous stint as interior minister in the 1990s. He served 22 months in prison, but made a political comeback and retook the reins of the Shas party in 2013.