(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said Thursday that he decided to open an investigation into the submarine affair after receiving new information.
Mandelblit stressed that, at this stage, it is only an inquiry and not a full-fledged investigation.
Speaking at a Bar Association event in Haifa that was cut short due to the current plague of wildfires, Mandelblit said that “in Israel, criminal investigations are not opened due to baseless speculation that someone committed a crime.” He said that is key to maintaining the rule of law.
“I ordered an inquiry into the purchase of vessels for the navy a week after we received initial information on the matter,” Mandelblit said. “I made the decision after receiving new information Wednesday afternoon from the head of the Police Intelligence and Investigations branch, Asst.-Ch. Meni Yitzhaki, that changed the evidence available to us enough to justify a criminal inquiry.”
Mandelblit said that at the conclusion of the initial inquiry, he will decide whether to open a full-fledged criminal investigation.
“There is great public interest in checking the facts, and I hope the police bring before me their findings in a short period of time,” he said.
Meanwhile Thursday, Channel 10 reported that the German firm that sold Israel submarines was forced to fire its veteran Israeli representative and replace him with a businessman who hired Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer, Channel 10 reported on Thursday.
According to the report, former Israel Navy commander Eliezer Marom and embattled former National Security Council head Avriel Bar-Yosef threatened Thyssenkrupp seven years ago, that if it did not fire Brig.-Gen. Shaike Bareket and replace him with businessman Miki Ganor, Israel would not purchase more submarines from the company. Ganor then insisted on 5% of the company’s profits from deals with Israel.
Bar-Yosef denied the report and Marom told Channel 10 that he opposed purchasing more submarines and took steps that harmed Thyssenkrupp.
As Thyssenkrupp’s representative in Israel, Ganor hired Netanyahu’s lawyer and confidant David Shimon, who allegedly pushed to buy the German submarines over the objections of the defense establishment, including then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Shimron also pressured the Defense Ministry to cancel an international tender for naval vessels to be used to guard Israel’s natural gas resources, and instead purchase them from Thyssenkrupp.
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