Micha Lindenstrauss, former state comptroller, passes away at 82

As state comptroller he prioritized the fight against government corruption.

By ARIK BENDER/MAARIV
May 3, 2019 03:33
3 minute read.
Micha Lindenstrauss

Micha Lindenstrauss. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Micha Lindenstrauss, former state comptroller and Haifa District Court judge, passed away on Thursday at the age of 82.

Lindenstrauss leaves behind a wife and three children, one of which is Judge Ilona Lindenstrauss-Arieli. His funeral will take place on Friday at Haifa’s Kfar Samir Cemetery.

One of the main cases in Lindenstrauss’s long judicial career was the rape case at Shomrat. He acquitted the defendants by reason of doubt, in a ruling that was criticized by the public and later by the Supreme Court. In his verdict, Lindenstrauss wrote that the rape victim’s version was not credible: “The witness impressed me as an intelligent, articulate young woman who is well prepared for a ‘battle’ with the distinguished defense attorneys.”

He also stated that since the victim did not explicitly express a refusal to have sex, it did not constitute rape, based on the fact that the woman had previously had intimate relations with boys older than her.

Lindenstrauss concluded his position as a judge in 2005, and his name was raised as a candidate to become state comptroller. He was elected in June by a majority of 59 members of Knesset, compared to 29 who voted against him, taking office in July 2005. As state comptroller, he prioritized the fight against corruption and, together with his corruption adviser Yaakov Borowski, seriously addressed government corruption.

Unlike previous comptrollers, he tended to carry out interrogations and publicized them in the media. These actions led to much opposition from people who claimed that the comptroller’s role is not to initiate investigations similar to the police and to promote indictments, but only to present irregularities. Supporters on the other hand claimed that all previous state comptrollers had done was publish annual reports that caused some noise in the media for a few days, but that their accusations quickly dissipated – so the comptroller should publish his findings frequently.

One of his reports dealt with the “Investment Center Affair,” which led to an indictment against former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

“The State of Israel lost one of its loyal public servants today,” said Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Blue and White faction and former chairman of the Histadrut labor federation. “Judge Lindenstrauss was struggling and fighting unceasingly against government corruption, and for a just and fair government serving its citizens. The legacy he leaves behind in his public activity still resonates and will continue to be a model.”

Labor MK Amir Peretz said that “on Holocaust [Remembrance] Day, we are informed of the death of Micha Lindenstrauss, who survived the Nazi onslaught when he was smuggled out of Berlin with his family in 1939. He was an attentive, professional and profound man, whose commitment to the rule of law was deep and served as a compass for his decisions.”

The Israel Bar Association said it was bowing its head with the news of the death of the former judge. “Lindenstrauss went a long and impressive way in various frameworks in the judicial system, culminating in his tenure as president of the Haifa District Court. His contribution to Israeli society was significant also after his retirement from the judicial system, and he made his mark while serving as state comptroller and was given the Knight of Government Quality award for his work in this position.”

“The Bar Association shares the grief of the family and sends its condolences,” said its leader, Avi Haimi. “His contribution to Israeli society stood out in its struggle to eradicate the phenomenon of government corruption. We believe that his social and legal legacy will serve as an admirable model for future generations as well.”

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