IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Ofek Buchris.
(photo credit: ELI DASSA)
Military police on Tuesday took IDF Brig.-Gen. Ofek Buchris and his main accuser by surprise, foisting them into a confrontation that included intense exchanges, but with both sides digging in their heels regarding their narratives.
The meeting lasted 90 minutes and is expected to be followed in the near future by another confrontation between Buchris and his second accuser. Despite some initial expectations, no other accusers have come out of the woodwork.
Buchris is accused of five incidents of rape against his main accuser and of sexual harassment against his second accuser.
The allegations have already cost him a promotion to be head of IDF operations within the Operations Directorate and have halted the career of an officer who many saw as a future chief-of-staff.
In mid-March, new evidence reported by Channel 10 and a battle of lie detector tests, which seemed to go against Buchris, appeared to move the IDF legal division closer to an indictment.
The new evidence reportedly included objective circumstantial evidence to confirm at least one of the five incidents of rape Buchris is accused of. Until then, it had been thought that it was just the word of Buchris against his two accusers.
In addition, the lawyers for the two women complaining of unwanted sexual advances or rape by Buchris said in mid- March that the IDF Legal Division told them that lie detector tests confirmed their clients told the truth.
They added that the IDF lawyers, including top military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zigagi, told them that the lie detector tests also showed that Buchris was not telling the entire truth in denying the complaints against him.
The accusers’ lawyers said the IDF came forward to them, departing from the standard blackout on information about the criminal investigation, because they viewed Channel 10’s initial report as misleading.
IDF Public Defender Col. Asher Halperin, who is representing Buchris, once again slammed all of the media coverage on Tuesday, calling past revelations “selective, incomplete and biased” and demanding that the media leave the investigation alone until it is completed.
Another issue which already may have turned the tide against Buchris is that the second accuser is reportedly a somewhat senior officer in a sensitive position who had wanted to avoid discussing her experiences with Buchris, and only came forward when the first accuser named her, Many say that such a reluctant accuser increases the credibility of her accusations now that she was essentially made to come forward by the affair.
While leaks from the IDF indicate a belief that the prosecution is moving toward indicting Buchris, the prosecution has made no such statement and the absence of a knockout for the main accuser in Tuesday’s confrontation may lead the IDF to reevaluate.
From Buchris’s side, the response has been clear: not only denial of rape, but denial of having had any kind of sexual relations with his two accusers.