Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni has been arrested on suspicion of rape, corruption, and fraud. The Rishon LeZion Magistrate's Court extended his remand by eight days on Tuesday.
Shimoni was arrested along with his brother Ofer, a municipality employee and two businessmen, one of whom allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of shekels on Shimoni's behalf to a woman who wanted to submit a police complaint about the mayor, alleging sex offenses.
The court also extended the remand of the mayor's brother Ofer by eight days.
"This is a serious case of sex offenses combined with bribery. The suspect took bribes from interested parties, and then used them to pay for the sex offenses he committed against women," a police representative said at court.
At least two women complained to the police about Shimoni, accusing him of committing sexual offenses against them.
According to the suspicions attributed to Shimoni, a woman who had worked with him while he was the head of the company Atarim wanted to submit a complaint against him regarding sexual abuse, but the two settled the matter between them.
The mayor allegedly reached a secret agreement with the woman and "bought" her silence for hundreds of thousands of shekels, Israel's Channel 10 reported.
Shimoni obtained a part of the sum, police suspect, from a contractor in Ashkelon in return for advancing construction projects. The contractor, well known in Ashkelon, constructed many buildings in the city, including public buildings. He is considered a close associate of Shimoni's.
The possibility that Shimoni could be arrested leaked to several members of the city council. Some of them cooperated with the police, providing investigators with documents. Employees at the city's engineering department also provided police with allegedly incriminating materials.
"We want the police to investigate and reach the right findings," said Shimoni's lawyer, Yaron London. "There's no reason to keep him under arrest when things happened a long time ago. This is a mayor with no criminal record and there's no concern he will obstruct the investigation."