Former chief rabbi Yona Metzger arrested
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Israel’s former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger was arrested on Monday on suspicion of taking bribes, defrauding charities, breaching public trust and obstructing justice, police said.
A gag order on an investigation that lasted months was lifted on Monday afternoon, when the rabbi stood before a judge and was remanded in police custody for nine days by Rishon LeZion’s magistrates court.
The investigation into Metzger’s financial crimes revealed a “depressing picture” involving sums of money and levels of fraud of an “unprecedented scope”, said head fraud squad investigator Asaf Valvich at the hearing.
The rabbi had also tried to intimidate witnesses and hamper the investigation, according to the Israeli Police National Fraud Unit.
Metzger’s attorney, David Libai, dismissed the charges and expressed concern that someone was trying to frame and slander the rabbi.
Metzger stepped down as Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi on July 24, after 10 years in the position.
In June, he was questioned on similar charges to those brought this week and placed under house arrest, although police eventually dropped the charges.