Police did whatever they could after the 2009 Bar Noar shooting to ensure that innocents wouldn’t stand trial, Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino said Friday, as the double murder case looked in danger of imminent collapse.
“The Bar Noar murder was a serious and difficult incident and we placed it at the top of our priorities for years. In every case, we do whatever we can to find the truth, and so that innocents won’t stand trial. And if there is any doubt, it is our obligation to investigate it to the end,” the police chief said.
Police on Wednesday arrested “Z.”, the state witness who broke the case, on suspicion of fabricating evidence and obstruction of justice.
Following the arrest, lawyers for Hagai Felician, the suspect indicted for the murders, said they expected him home in the coming days. However, Tel Aviv police chief Asst.-Ch.
Bentzi Sau said on Saturday evening that police still believed Felician had committed the murders, and that they had evidence supporting this.
Danino, speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv, noted that in the wake of a recent spree of underworld killings “we have seen criticism of police handling of severe crime. Israel Police does not take lightly these crimes and their effect on public trust in us. It is at the top of our priorities [regarding] organized crime.”
Last week, Danino was quoted telling police officers that he had stopped listening to the radio because of what he described as unfair criticism of police by the media. He responded to this criticism on Friday, saying, “I am aware of the importance of the press in a democratic state... but in recent weeks we saw a large series of reports presenting the police in a negative light, including the use of comments by unnamed officers and sources, reports that besmirched tens of thousands of police officers. When you verbally attack the police and police officers, you weaken the organization, and in the same breath you strengthen criminals.”
He said that the police did not need to justify itself, but that “in 2013 the number of murders was the lowest in recent decades, and the number of shooting incidents in 2013 was the lowest in recent years. These are things you don’t see in the press.”
Since last October, there have been nearly two dozen underworld murders and a dozen car bombs as Israeli criminals fight over turf and business interests across the country. The spate of killings has led to widespread criticism of police from the press, the public and politicians.