Israel court orders foreclosure of Jaffa's Scientology building

Foreclosure follows petition by N.N. Salati Engineering and Projects Management, which last week filed a NIS 7.6 million suit against Gur Finkelstein and the Scientology movement.

Haaretz, Israel/September 20, 2011

The Scientology building in Jaffa is being foreclosed, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Monday. The historic Alhambra cinema building belongs to the international Scientology movement through trustee Gur Finkelstein, who is suspected of attempted murder.

The foreclosure followed a petition by N.N. Salati Engineering and Projects Management. Last week, N.N. Salati filed a NIS 7.6 million suit against Finkelstein and the Scientology movement. According to the suit, the defendants commissioned the company to build a four-floor, 6,000 square meter building at the site and to renovate the 1936 cinema building last year, but paid it for only part of the work.

N.N. Salati says that in September 2010, it signed a contract to renovate the building for NIS 13.5 million, excluding VAT, but was paid only NIS 11.6 million. In addition, a fire broke out in the building that October, and N.N. Salati signed a NIS 5 million contract to repair the damage. In this case, too, it was paid only NIS 2.2 million. It also says it is owed NIS 2.25 million for constructing the four-floor building.

Finkelstein was arrested in April on charges including attempted murder and assault, and was indicted in May. Police believe he has ties to a gang plotting to kill a Jaffa sheikh and blame right-wing movements for the crime.

The suit and foreclosure order reveal that Finkelstein is the theater's trustee, and that the land registry (Tabu ) includes a note stating that the asset is actually owned by the international Scientology movement. N.N. Salati says it has not been able to collect its money due to both Finkelstein's detention and the international movement's attempts to evade it.

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