New police chief to be named after Bar-Lev case closed

Prosecutors refuse to work on investigation due to strike; senior police officers say comptroller should probe complaints.

By DAN IZENBERG,
November 28, 2010 02:15
New police chief to be named after Bar-Lev case closed

Bar-Lev 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch will name the next police chief as soon as the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department into Cmdr. Uri Bar- Lev’s sexual harassment case is complete, a source close to the minister told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening.

Last week, Aharonovitch said he would not allow “feuds between police commanders” to disrupt the appointment process, and has been in talks with Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein in order to coordinate the next appointment. Some reports over the weekend claimed that Aharonovitch has already decided on who would replace outgoing Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen, though the source refused to confirm such claims.

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Meanwhile, Bar-Lev’s supporters continue to maintain that the case is the result of a plot by rivals to destroy his reputation and eliminate him from the race for police chief.

Last week, a former senior police source told the Post that the state comptroller should launch an investigation to see whether sources close to Bar-Lev’s competitors in the police were linked to the charges against him.

“Suddenly, after two years, a woman launches a complaint,” the source said, referring to Dr. Orly Innes, the Public Security Ministry employee who alleged that Bar-Lev sexually harassed her.

“And after five years, a second woman complains. This is borderline,” he added, referring to “Mem,” a woman from the North who claimed she was drugged and raped by Bar-Lev in a Herzliya hotel.

Bar-Lev, the Israel Police attaché in Washington, said the encounter with Mem had been consensual, and denied harassing Innes. Cohen, who tried to oust Bar-Lev from the police in 2008, has denied allegations that the investigation is linked in any way to the race for police chief, and attacked the media for publishing the allegation last week.

Meanwhile, the Organization of State Prosecutors announced over the weekend that as long as a strike which members launched earlier this month continues, the prosecutors in the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department will not deal in any way with the case of Bar-Lev.

According to the announcement, “the organization instructed the PID prosecutors not to, in any way, handle the Bar-Lev case. That means they will not prepare any approval or letter related to the investigation. Thus, as long as the strike continues, it will not be possible to take decisions and reach conclusions, and therefore it will not be possible to complete the investigation.”

Meanwhile, the strike, now going into its third week, is taking an ever-increasing toll on the government’s ability to fight for its policies on a number of key issues currently before the High Court of Justice.

Despite the strike, the High Court has continued to hear petitions and appeals even though the state has been absent from all these hearings. Since the strike began, prosecutors have also refused to publish legal documents including responses to petitions against the various branches of government.

On Thursday, the prosecutors published a list of important legal hearings that the state will not attend and legal proceedings where it will not present the state’s position.

The list includes the following cases: On November 11, the state was due to present its response to a petition filed by Channel 2’s Uvda investigative reporting program, which wants to air a story on a special security unit. Uvda is petitioning against the state’s decision to prevent the report from being aired for reasons of state security.

The High Court ordered the state to respond to a petition filed by the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya by November 28. It will not do so if the strike does not end by then. The prosecutors say if the petitioners win the case, it could cause a significant change in the way allocations are made to institutions of higher learning and thereby harm the universities.

Unless the strike ends before November 28, the state will not reply to a petition against a law passed by the Knesset to halt legal procedures and erase criminal records involving most of the protesters who broke the law or are suspected of breaking it during the protests against the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

On December 1, the state is due to respond to a petition filed by Israel’s national carrier, El Al, demanding that the state pick up the tab for the airline’s security expenses.

On December 5, the state is supposed to respond to a petition charging that the biannual budget, which the government is due to pass by the end of the year, is illegal.

In a related development, Israel Bar chairman Yori Geiron once again called on Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to actively intervene to resolve the work dispute.

“Because of the strike, hearings are postponed, others are held without the presence of the prosecutors, causing delays in justice and a heavier burden on the courts,” wrote Geiron. “The influence of the strike will be strongly felt even after it is over.”

Meanwhile, the public defender, Inbal Rubinstein, wrote to Neeman and senior Justice Ministry officials, demanding that whatever benefits are eventually granted to the prosecutors be granted to the public defenders as well. She pointed out that although the public defenders do not belong to the same work category as the prosecutors, they have always been given the same working conditions.

Rubinstein wrote that “the circumstances of the government prosecutors do justify any significant difference in treatment which would favor them above other [lawyers in the public service].

Therefore, any agreement involving wage conditions that is granted to them should apply to the public defenders as well.”


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