An NGO on Sunday demanded that State Attorney Shai Nitzan indict Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, threatening to file a petition with the High Court of Justice to compel the indictment if he does not comply.
The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel made the demand in a letter regarding the “suspicions against” Pinto – to which the Justice Ministry responded that it has nothing new to add to the issue at this time.
Pinto is founder of the Shuva Israel Yeshiva, a wellknown rabbi both in Israel and the US, a descendant of two Sephardi rabbinical dynasties, was listed as the seventh-richest rabbi in Israel last year by Forbes Israel and has served as an adviser to a battery of Israel’s elite.
The Movement said that Nitzan should not make any deals with Pinto that would avoid his prosecution, and that he should face “justice for his actions like any other man.”
Next, the NGO emphasized that “there are cases where the public interest demands letting justice run its course with a suspect, rather than agreeing to a plea bargain, and this is one of them.”
Reiterating a message from an earlier, similar letter to Nitzan, it added that “bringing to justice the one who has corrupted is no less important and essential” than “bringing to justice a senior police official.”
The Movement said that failing to indict Pinto would set a problematic precedent, whereby corrupt persons would increase efforts to bribe law enforcement officers in an attempt to develop a back-up “insurance policy” that could help them avoid prosecution should their crimes be revealed.
In mid-January, the Movement sent a similar letter to Nitzan and a related letter to State Comptroller Joseph Shapira regarding the Pinto affairs.
The letter to Nitzan made almost identical requests, but had not yet evolved into threatening a High Court petition, whereas the letter to the comptroller demanded he explain why he had not investigated irregularities in the appointment of senior police Comdr. (head of Lahav 443 – “the Israeli FBI”) Menashe Arbiv.
The Justice Ministry and Shapira appeared to have brushed off the demands for action so far.
Also in January, Arbiv took a leave of absence after the allegations that he took bribes from Pinto were made public.
The Justice Ministry unit that investigates crimes by police has been probing allegations that Pinto was involved in bribery related to Arbiv while he was the Israel Police attaché in Washington D.C.
Pinto’s lawyers have approached the ministry, offering information on alleged bribery and improper actions taken by top police officials, in exchange for leniency.
The ministry said it would review the information and that if it was of sufficient interest – meaning it could lead to criminal charges – that it would grant the rabbi some measure of leniency, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The information pertaining to Arbiv’s involvement with Pinto was revealed earlier this month when the Jerusalem Magistrate Court granted a request of several Hebrew media outlets to remove the gag order on the “severe scandal.”