Aharonovitch to announce new top cop amid criticism

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 19, 2010 10:32

Supreme Court petition filed against Danino's nomination after incomplete investigation; Ganot appointed as dir.-gen. of Public Security Ministry.

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Yochanan Danino.

Yochanan Danino 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A new police chief will be announced on Sunday, the Public Security Ministry said over the weekend.

The Movement for Quality Government said it would petition the Supreme Court against the nomination of Cmdr. Yochanan Danino as the next police chief on Sunday following State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' criticism that the attorney general prematurely ended an investigation against him.

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But the unprecedented controversy surrounding the race for police chief may not end tomorrow, after sources in Lindenstrauss' office criticized Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein for "hastily" declaring on Thursday that an investigation into front running candidate for the post, southern police head Cmdr. Yochanan Danino, had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Also on Sunday, Aharonovitch announced the appointment of Ya'akov Ganot as the next director-general of the Public Security Ministry. Ganot will replace Hagai Peleg, who recently resigned after learning that a harassment investigation was launched against him.

The State Comptroller is investigating two complaints against Danino; The first, filed by a former police intelligence officer, holds that Danino as head of the police's Intelligence and Operations Branch in 2006 mishandled operations involving two police informers, who were subsequently exposed and murdered, according to the complaint. An internal police inquiry has found the officer's complaints to be baseless. Danino has accused the intelligence officer, Dep.-Cmdr. Yisrael Abarnabel, of being guided by a personal agenda against him.

A second complaint filed by the police's former deputy on attache to the US, Dep.-Cmdr. Simon Perry, accuses Danino of delaying a response to a US request to extradict alleged senior underworld figures Meir and Itzik Abergil.

In a statement released on Thursday,  Weinstein, said "there was no legal reason to prevent Danino from being appoint police chief at this time, should the minister choose to do so," adding that no fault had been found in the officer's past conduct.

But on Saturday, a source from Comptroller's office said, "The office of the attorney general moved hastily. The police chief completes his term in  May, so there is time."

"We are looking at two complaints [into Danino], and we are working as quickly as possible. We have not completed our investigation" the source said. "So far, we have found neither positive nor negative results pertaining to Danino's conduct."

On Thursday, Lindenstrauss telephoned Weinstein and expressed his "discomfort and surprise," the source added. "On the one hand, we were asked to complete our checks as soon as possible. On the other, this announcement is made," he said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Levi defended the announcement as being "in the public's interest."

"Aharonovitch has asked for the investigation to be completed as soon as possible. As ar we can tell, no fault has been found in Danino's conduct. The comptroller is free to continue his investigation," Cohen told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening. 

The two leading candidates for the post are Danino and Tel Aviv police Cmdr. Shahar Ayalon.

Other candidates include Northern cmdr. Shimon Koren, Deputy Police Insp.-Gen. Ilan Franco, Central Cmdr. Bentsi Sao, and the head of the police's national Operations Branch Cmdr. Nissim Moor.

Aharonovitch may also surprise the country by announcing a police chief who is not currently serving in the force, although that possibility is seen as unlikely by observers.

Last month, the Israel Police's attache to the US, Cmdr. Uri Bar Lev, ruled himself out of the race after becoming the subject of a sexual harassment and rape complaints.

The Police Investigations Department has since said that no firm evidence existed to back up the rape allegation, but that sufficient evidence existed for an indictment on a charge of sexual harassment. Bar Lev has denied any wrongdoing, and his associates have accused Bar Lev's rivals in the police of being linked to the accusations.


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