Under fire from all sides, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein finally approved
late on Thursday the police request to interrogate a senior judge who allegedly
beat his children for years.
Weinstein accepted responsibility for the
nearly three-year delay in authorizing the interrogation, saying there had been
“errors in his office.”
One of the main reasons for the delay was that
the prosecutor under Weinstein, who was supposedly handling the details of the
case, was on an extended maternity leave, and therefore had not brought all of
the updated information to Weinstein’s attention, Channel 10 news reported on
In addition, it came out for the first time that the judge in
question had dealt with family court matters while being himself under
investigation for allegedly beating his children, the Channel 10 report
Earlier on Thursday, the court spokesman announced that the judge,
recently thrust into the headlines by the allegations, had taken a voluntary
leave of absence.
The move was not enough, however, to put out the
firestorm across the political spectrum against Weinstein for what several
Knesset members and organizations were calling his improper shielding of the
judge from scrutiny.
Police had sought to interrogate the judge as part
of their investigation for some time, but until Thursday Weinstein had rebuffed
them. Officers may not interrogate, or even investigate, a judge (or an MK,
minister or the president) without the attorney-general’s
According to the allegations, which the Justice Ministry
confirmed on Wednesday had been transmitted to Weinstein, a complaint was first
filed against the judge three years ago, after one of his children’s teachers
notified social services of the problem.
The judge allegedly admitted to
the teacher that he beat his children, apologized and expressed regret. Later
and much more recently, however, there were additional reports of
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to acting
Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer asking that the Knesset State Control
Committee investigate Weinstein’s shielding of the senior
“Weinstein has lost the faith of the public,” the statement
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Likud Beytenu), the most recent chairwoman
of the Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child, sent a request to Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman, demanding an explanation of how the judge was allowed to
continue on the bench for so long.
“How can it be that for three years a
senior judge remained in office in the justice system while he held a sword
around his neck regarding grave matters and suspicions?” Levy asked. “Is a
person in a public position immune before the law?”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava
Gal-On called on Weinstein to “draw the conclusions” from his “failures” and to
The Tel Aviv and Central District of the Israel Bar Association
released a statement slamming both the judge and Weinstein, and calling on the
Bar Association’s executive committee to file a petition to the High Court of
Justice against Weinstein’s conduct.
The executive committee said it was
studying the possibility.
A statement from the court administration said
that since the alleged victims were minors, it would be illegal to publish the
judge’s name, or their names, at this time.
Before approval came on
Thursday to interrogate the judge, the Justice Ministry spokesman said “It is
true that the attorney-general did not approve, at the time, the interrogation
under oath of the judge being complained about, and requested additional
clarifications from the police and from social services authorities regarding
the updated situation of the fabric of the relations in the
These clarifications were requested “to ensure that the damage
from an interrogation would not outweigh the benefit,” and to consider what was
truly “in the best interests of the children,” the spokesman said.
ministry’s latest statement on Thursday took full responsibility for an improper
delay in the investigation.