Menashe Arbiv Submits to Questioning in Pinto Case

Former Lahav 433 Commander still not charged in alleged role - and may have information invalidating Pinto's plea deal.

Tova Dvorin,

Menashe Arbiv
Menashe Arbiv
Israel Police

Former Commander of the Israel Police's elite Lahav 433 investigative unit, Menashe Arbiv, arrived at the Department for Investigations of Policemen on Sunday, where he will be interrogated for the first time over his alleged involvement in the Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto bribery case.

Arbiv has been linked with the case for months. However, new investigations into his role in the corruption scandal are connected to Pinto's plea deal with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, according to Walla! News. The plea bargain may yet be rejected, however. 

Pinto's plea bargain, revealed last month, stipulates that he must admit guilt to every indictment charged against him, including charges of paying Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha over 400,000 shekel ($107,000) in bribes over a separate investigation into the now-shuttered Hazon Yeshaya charity organization. 

In addition, Pinto's associates claim that Arbiv received various benefits as well, including help receiving a visa to the United States for his son and wife.

The rabbi allegedly gave $2,000 to Arbiv's son every month, as well as a 700,000 shekels ($190,000) discount for the senior police officer to buy a home in an exclusive section of northern Tel Aviv. The associates added that the rabbi and his aides also helped Arbiv when he served as a representative of the Israeli Police in the US.

Arbiv has not been formally charged or even questioned yet over his role in the scandal. If tried and convicted of accepting a bribe, he could face up to 10 years in prison. But the chances of his being tried may be tied into Pinto's plea bargain, which is now teetering on the brink of legitimacy, Arbiv's lawyers stated Sunday. 

Attorneys Gideon Fisher, Joshua Resnick and Limor Halevi, indicated in a statement made on Arbiv's behalf before questioning began that Arbiv's testimony could render Pinto's plea deal moot.

"The High Court for Justice, after the state's announcement that the information provided by Pinto has been tested and found to be untrustworthy, called for Arbiv to visit the DIP's office for further questioning," the statement began, "and to give testimony for the primary case, in which Pinto and his men are accused of stealing millions of shekels from a non-profit organization collecting money for needy Holocaust survivors."

"The information Arbiv will present will, in its own right, invalidate Pinto's plea bargain [entirely]," the statement continued.

The attorneys added that the fact that the legislative establishment made a deal with Pinto at all, after the High Court found the latter to have "spread lies and fabrications" in his own right. 

"This raises serious concerns and doubts about the motive here [to facilitate a deal], which is worthy of its own investigation," the attorneys concluded. 

Arbiv's alleged possession of incriminating information against Pinto introduces yet another wrinkle into the complicated case, which has gripped Israeli media for months. 

Just five days ago, three of Pinto's own attorneys abruptly quit their representation of the accused rabbi, leading to widespread and intense speculation that Pinto had violated not one, but multiple terms of his plea deal.

Pinto already broke one stipulation after he permitted his wife to plead his innocence to the press earlier this month. 




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