Senior J'lem prosecutor apologizes for bad-mouthing judges

Capital's deputy district attorney was quoted by students as saying “a large number of judges in Israel are big asses."

February 14, 2010 02:53
3 minute read.
Uri Korev.

uri korev 58. (photo credit: Channel 10)

Deputy Jerusalem District Attorney Uri Korev apologized on Friday for calling judges “asses” and making other derogatory comments about the judiciary, including Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, during lectures to law students at Sha’arei Mishpat College in Hod Hasharon.

Despite the apology, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein warned that if the report, published as the lead story of Yediot Aharonot earlier in the morning, was true, “we are talking about harsh expressions which the State Attorney’s Office will not be able to accept.”

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Weinstein said he had asked State Attorney Moshe Lador to summon Korev, who is a key prosecutor in the trial of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his former close aide, Shula Zaken, to a meeting to see whether the statements attributed to him in the report were true, and, “if so, to reach the necessary conclusions.”

Yediot Aharonot published direct quotes based on students’ tape recordings of Korev’s lectures.

“A large number of judges in Israel are big asses,” he was quoted as saying.

“Based on my experience I can tell you that judges sometimes make decisions. How do they make them? Just like that. Either because he is an ass or because he thinks he knows everything. Or because he has made up his mind about the case…after hearing a lawyer’s first argument, even before hearing the other side. The judge is no longer open to hear anything more, either because he is playing a game on his computer, which does happen, or for some other reason.”

According to another quote, Korev allegedly said, “As soon as he becomes a judge, he obtains the grade of – depending who you ask – something between human being and angels. That’s his grade…but if I were to grade them, I would give some of them the grade of ‘ass.’”

Regarding Beinisch, Korev was quoted as saying, “I am critical of the judicial system and its liberalism and its stupidity and of decisions like those of Beinisch who acquits a killer…for some far-fetched excuse, some baseless law which will endanger my children and yours and will prevent us from putting criminals behind bars. When Beinisch looks at the mirror, and she’s 65 years old, she will feel like she’s 55 and very beautiful. We are working in a system which, in my opinion, is full of rot and stupidity.”

In a letter written to Lador after the article was published, Korev wrote that he “felt pain for the injustice that my statements caused the judicial system which I have been serving for the past 15 years, on the injury I caused my colleagues in the prosecution and you personally, and especially the injury I caused the judicial system.”

In the statements quoted by Yediot, Korev appeared to criticize Lador, at the time Jerusalem District Attorney, for not retracting an indictment against Eliezer Bengayev for the murder of Shalom Cohen in 1994. This despite the fact that Lador’s deputy, Eli Abarbanel, had begun to have serious doubts about Bungee’s guilt. Lador, according to Korev, told Abarbanel that since he had already filed the indictment, he would leave it up to the judges to decide. Bengayev was sentenced to life imprisonment. Two months later, the real killers were found.

In his letter to Lador, Korev wrote, “I’m not familiar with the Bengayev case. My comments on the matter were taken out of context... I didn’t claim [in class] when I mentioned these cases that I was being accurate about the facts and I brought them as examples only. Regretfully, they were presented in a distorted fashion.”

Korev gave a dismissive statement when asked for a response to the article by Yediot Aharonot. He reportedly said that his lectures were given in an informal manner and a style that included humor, cynicism and exaggeration. “The petty attention given to statements made in such a small forum (15-20 students), and the [newspaper’s] false presentation of the ideas presented in the lectures, is unworthy,” he reportedly told the paper.

His letter of apology to Lador sounded more humble. “We are talking about a workshop for 15-20 students who already have a first degree, which is presented in a free-wheeling and informal manner,” wrote Korev. “One way of putting a question into sharper perspective is to exaggerate examples. That’s my way of teaching the course. Presenting fair and serious criticism is the right way to do things in an academic course and this should be done in a polite manner. I have no doubt that I erred in the style I used and for this I wish to express my apologies.”

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