A severe indictment against alleged crime boss Asi Abutbul and 23 others was filed Friday morning to Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, charging them with 21 different counts including bribery, arsenal, and affiliation with organized crime.
The indictment is unusual in the amount of charges against the defendants, who prosecutors say make up one of the largest crime organizations in Israel.
The charge sheet mainly deals with charges of suspected blackmail of some thirty businesses and French immigrants. It also claims that the defendants organized themselves in a systematic and hierarchic manner from 2005 and until their arrest in March 2007.
"Within the organization, members collaborated on criminal activity including forceful blackmail of different businessman in Israel and internationally," prosecutors wrote in the indictment.
The charge sheet also maintains that "Abutbul managed the organization, ordered those under him and directed their activities, all in order to promote the organization's criminal activity. The defendant decided, in accordance with intelligence he received, which businessmen to forcefully bribe and the amount to blackmail them with."
Last month, Abutbul was questioned on suspicion he bribed a senior Emergency Room physician at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital. Abutbul allegedly paid the chief to summon him for medical appointments while he was in custody, and received other medical benefits as well.