'We weren't negligent with transcripts'

Ramon case prosecutors respond to state comptroller's report.

June 28, 2010 16:11
4 minute read.
Micha Lindenstrauss

311_state comptroller. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The senior prosecutors in the Haim Ramon case responded Monday to accusations leveled against their conduct during the case by state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. 

The officials, outgoing Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David and the head of the Ramon prosecution team, Ariella Segal-Antler, complained that they had not been given the right of a hearing during the investigation against them in a statement released to media.

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They also forwarded a petition to the High Court asking that the "exceptional, hurtful and personal conclusions and the recommended course of action" pursued against them by the state comptroller be rescinded.

The High Court was also asked to find the prosecutors as having acted in compliance with the norms of the legal profession and not with "substantial negligence" as Lindenstrauss had charged.

State comptroller alleges "substantial negligence" in Ramon case

State comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Sunday named four senior officials in the police and prosecution as being responsible for the state's failure to provide former justice minister Haim Ramon with transcripts of wiretapped conversations related to his indictment and said the state ought to consider taking punitive measures against them.

He concluded that the four were guilty of "substantial negligence" but that they had not acted maliciously.

The four mentioned in the long-awaited report, which was released on Monday, were Miri Golan, former head of the National Fraud Investigation Unit, Dep. Cmdr. Eran Kamin, who headed the investigation against Ramon,  as well as Ruth David and Ariella Segal-Antler.

The wiretapping affair came to light during the former minister's trial in Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on charges that he had forcibly kissed a female officer employed in the Prime Minister's Office in Tel Aviv. Ramon's lawyer, Dan Scheineman, received information from an anonymous source that the police had wiretapped conversations of the complainant, her commanding officer and Shula Zaken, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bureau chief, but had not handed the material over to the defense team.

Eventually, it emerged that the information was correct. The transcripts of these conversations were not included in the evidence that the prosecution gave to Scheineman after filing the indictment, as they were supposed to have been. After receiving the information, Scheineman asked Segal-Antler four times whether such material existed and each time she said no. Only then did the prosecution discover the file with the transcripts and hand it over to Ramon's attorney.

Ramon accused the state and the police of deliberately concealing the information because it would have allegedly strengthened his case. The phone conversations had to do with the attempts of the female officer's commander and the prime minister's military attaché, Gad Shamni, to put pressure on her to complain. Ramon said their efforts involved tampering with a witness. Furthermore, had he known about these efforts, he might have asked the Knesset to apply his parliamentary immunity, thus postponing the trial for as long as he remained an MK.

The problems began when the police asked the court for permission to wiretap the phones of the three women to investigate suspicions that Zaken had interfered with the investigation. The police suspected that Zaken had tried to convince the woman not to complain. However, they added that they also sought information related to the suspicion that Ramon had forcibly kissed the complainant. As a result, the police transcribed or provided summaries of conversation regarding both suspicions. Later, however, they opened a separate file for the material regarding the allegations against Ramon because the state attorney had only authorized the wiretapping regarding the suspicion of tampering with a witness.

Thus, the police did not hand the new file to the prosecution and the prosecution did not ask for it. Essentially, it was forgotten until someone told Scheineman about it.

While Lindenstrauss named only four officials as being responsible for the mistake, he also pointed out that  former attorney-general Menahem Mazuz was legally responsible for supervising police work regarding wiretaps and was also in charge of the two prosecutors who had failed to fulfill their responsibilities.

Ramon asks for criminal investigation

 In an angry response to the state comptroller's report, Ramon demanded that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein order a criminal investigation to determine whether the failure of law enforcement officials to hand over the wiretapping transcripts was deliberate or not.

"It is true that the state comptroller wrote that 'it was not proven that the acts were perpetrated maliciously,' but it must be stressed that the state comptroller does not have the tools to determine whether, when something is done, it was done deliberately or innocently. It is not by chance that the state comptroller wrote that malice was not proven (instead of writing that it was proven that there was no malice). There is no doubt that in order to determine whether there was malice among all or any of them, there must be a criminal investigation."

Ramon added that despite all the flaws pointed out by the state comptroller, including the recommendation to consider taking punitive measures against the four officials, "not only have the police and the prosecution not taken measures against any of those involved in the affair, they have even tried to promote them to more senior positions and ranks. If these were civil servants who did not belong to the law enforcement system, there is no doubt that the system would have taken steps against them and certainly prevented their advancement."

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