(photo credit: IDF)
The commander of the IDF’s Kirya military headquarters in central Tel Aviv, Col. Yigal Ben Ami, is under investigation on suspicion of bribery and other offenses.
On Thursday the IDF confirmed that Ben Ami, who served as commander of the army’s headquarters for the past three years was under investigation for “breach of trust and violating military orders,” and said that upon completion of the investigation its findings will be examined by the Judge Advocate General’s Office.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, Ben Ami was put on leave and asked to advance the date of his retirement from the IDF which was accepted, the statement said. The military court imposed a gag order on the case.
Ben Ami has denied the allegations.
The military would not elaborate on the nature of his suspected crimes. But according to Hebrew media reports, the suspicions relate to bribes tied to construction on the base, as well as exceeding his authority and inappropriate behavior.
According to the Walla news site, Ben Ami has been under investigation by the military police for an extended period of time. The report said that the investigation saw the use of wiretapping and interrogation of several military officers in addition to several contractors.
Following the investigation, Ben Ami is said to be suspected of having ties to civilian companies which carried out construction projects at the base, as well as using military vehicles for personal purposes, and is also suspected of appointing the children of his friends and business associates to senior positions in the Kirya.
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“Whoever came to the Kirya in the past two years has noticed the momentum of construction that took place here,” Walla quoted one senior officer who serves at the base as saying.
“The sidewalks have been replaced, roads and building have been renovated, electricity infrastructure has been built, the gardens have been rebuilt, and even the gates have been replaced and changed,” he was quoted as saying, adding that “no one believed how such things were managed within the military system.”
Col. Ran Cohen, the chief military advocate, and Col. (res.) Avi Amiram, who represent Ben Ami, said in response that the officer is a “respected veteran commander who served in the IDF for 30 years with an impeccable record. He is in shock by the suspicions against him and denies them unequivocally. He is fully cooperating with the investigation, answering all questions in detail as well as provides evidence that contradicts the suspicions.”
The IDF published a tender yesterday to replace him, emphasizing that the job was needed to be filled immediately.
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