(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Asst.-Ch. Menashe Arbiv, former head of Lahav 433 – the National Crime Unit, was questioned on Sunday by the Justice Ministry’s Internal Affairs Division on corruption charges.
Though The Jerusalem Post has confirmed he was questioned, the Justice Ministry would not officially confirm that the questioning took place.
In mid-September, an indictment was filed with the Tel Aviv District Court against Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto as part of a plea bargain for him to testify against Arbiv.
Arbiv, who was the commander of what’s often called Israel’s FBI, resigned from his post on February 9 over the scandal, though he continues to proclaim his innocence and charges that Pinto is corrupt and manipulating the state.
Pinto returned to Israel in May from the US and was interrogated by the police, likely including the use of polygraph tests, as part of a final round of confirmation of whether his allegations against Arbiv were sound.
The plea bargain includes Pinto pleading guilty to a reduced indictment and the state agreeing not to ask for more than a year of prison time.
Pinto will be free to argue to the court that despite his admission of guilt, he should be given no prison time.
The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel has filed a petition to block Pinto’s plea bargain, claiming he is a “bigger fish” than Arbiv and that the state should show Pinto no leniency.
During the February negotiations for a plea bargain, the deal appeared to be falling apart over the questionable veracity of Pinto’s allegations and his demand that any indictment against him be dropped. It appears that Pinto has reduced his demands.
In February, Arbiv sent a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein rejecting the accusations as not only false but impossible.
The letter referenced allegations that have surfaced against Arbiv by Pinto and his followers, including that Pinto’s follower Ben Zion Suki paid for Arbiv to stay in a hotel in New York between June 9 and June 14, 2009.
Arbiv’s letter, drafted by his lawyer Gidon Fischer, provided what appeared to be a copy of Arbiv’s schedule during those days, indicating that he was meeting with then-president Shimon Peres in Washington and giving a speech to the Anti-Defamation League – also in Washington – during those days.
The next allegation against Arbiv was that Pinto got him a discount on a house in Tel Aviv.
To rebut this allegation, the letter provided what it identified as a statement from the real estate firm, connected with the buying of the house, saying that Arbiv never bought a home through the firm. The letter also says that Arbiv has continuously rented and did not buy a home.
Arbiv was accused of getting help from Pinto for obtaining a green card, i.e., US permanent residency, for his son.
The letter provides a statement from Arbiv’s son that he never obtained a green card and was in the US on an Australian visa obtained through his Australian in-laws, and a polygraph test that appears to indicate that Arbiv’s son honestly rejected the allegations.
Further, the letter rebutted the accusations by Pinto’s follower Gil Menashe that he paid for flights for Arbiv’s son and wife through the Kikar Yahalom travel agency, arguing that the agency has denied ever having had tickets purchased through it for Arbiv’s family.
One allegation that the letter does not directly address is the allegation that Arbiv’s son received money from Pinto over a period of time, but a spokesman for Arbiv said this issue was addressed in a polygraph test administered to Arbiv’s son.
The letter praises the state for what then appeared to be a decision to go all out after Pinto, but expresses outrage at the media for “brutally spilling the blood” of Arbiv, i.e., defaming his character, and convicting and judging him in a public relations circus before any real legal proceedings took place.
Also, the letter strongly implied that Weinstein should make a swift decision regarding Arbiv’s case in order to clear Arbiv’s name, and clarified that Arbiv resigned from the police only to deprive Pinto of a “dream deal” of giving evidence to the state in exchange for immunity.