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Court: Comptroller must give Weiner more evidence
By YONAH BOB
06/04/2012
Adviser to Ashkenazi gains some additional documents, time to respond to allegations against him, but less than he had requested.
 
The High Court of Justice on Monday ordered State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to turn over additional evidence in his possession to Col. Erez Weiner and also granted Weiner an additional week to review the new material before having to file a response.

Weiner was an adviser to former IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen (res.) Gabi ashkenazi and has been implicated by Lindenstrauss as being involved in some manner in the "Harpaz affair."

The Harpaz affair initially was an investigation into a document allegedly forged by Boaz Harpaz to try to undermine Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant's pursuit to replace Ashkenazi. Over time, it has expanded into an embarrassing investigation into alleged infighting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Ashkenazi and their aids, most notably Weiner.

As soon as Lindenstrauss implicated Weiner in the affair and began to discuss publicly the possibility of criminal charges, Weiner demanded the turnover of all documents in the state comptroller's possession in order to defend himself.

The sides have sparred for months over whether Lindenstrauss has turned over all relevant documents to Weiner, culminating in today's hearing in which the High Court ordered Lindenstrauss to turn over additional relevant documents in the coming days.

The hearing was also notable as Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein refused to represent the comptroller, who had to hire private counsel. Weinstein and Lindenstrauss have publicly clashed over the direction with which to take the Harpaz affair, with Lindenstrauss trying to press Weinstein into filing criminal allegations. Weinstein pushed back only a few days ago, accusing Lindenstrauss of misleading the public as to how he has managed the investigation.

The result of the hearing, was not a complete victory to either side as the comptroller had insisted it had no further obligation to turn over documents where as Weiner will have to suffice with receiving limited additional evidence and Lindenstrauss will decide what additional evidence to turn over with less input from Weiner that he requested.

One instance where the court accepted Lindenstrauss' arguments was affirming his right not to give Weiner a complete list of all of the persons who testified before the comptroller as part of the investigation. Although Weiner had requested the list, the court agreed that the request was overly broad and accepted the comptroller's argument that it was not relevant to Weiner's defense.

The court also rejected a push by Weiner's attorneys to disqualify Lindenstrauss from further dealings with the matter on the grounds that Weiner had received documents suggesting that Lindenstrauss had decided to recommend various sanctions against Weiner without having yet received Weiner's response.

The court accepted the comptroller's argument that the cited reference was a topographical error and that Lindenstrauss would remain undecided regarding his recommendations until receiving Weiner's response. 

Separately, the court issued a ban on distribution of any sensitive national security-related materials being turned over to Weiner's attorneys in order to limit review of the material to his attorneys alone.

Another significant aspect of the ruling was that the state comptroller had demanded a response to its report on the affair from Weiner within two weeks. Weiner won an additional week from the High Court, more than the two weeks but less than what he had hoped for, in order to review the new material his attorneys expect to receive.

In the overall legal scheme, the ruling allowed the High Court and the comptroller to avoid a new major legal precedent which could have allowed any petitioner to demand much greater disclosure of evidence than has been given to involved parties in the past. Such a precedent would have been seen by many as undermining the comptroller's ability to convince witnesses to speak freely, no longer being able to protect public exposure of their testimony.
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