Supreme Court of Israel.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Supreme Court and the Attorney-General’s Office have both been criticized by prominent NGOs over the last two days for delays in deciding the appeals on the Holyland Affair convictions and whether to file indictments in the Harpaz Affair.
The appeals in the Holyland Affair will determine whether former prime minister Ehud Olmert and a host of other top former officials, like former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, serve the prison sentences they received for bribery convictions from the Tel Aviv District Court in May 2014.
The appeals were filed with the Supreme Court within months of the sentencing and all oral arguments were concluded by December 2014, but the Supreme Court still has not decided any of them.
The nonprofit OMETS – Citizens for Good Governance and for Social-Legal Justice – wrote the Supreme Court on Monday, noting increased criticism in the media of the court’s delay.
OMETS added that, although there might have been an excuse for delay until the March elections, since Justice Salim Joubran was busy running the Central Elections Commission, there is no longer any excuse.
The NGO received a curt response from the Supreme Court on Wednesday, stating that the Holyland case is “a complex process – the file is being reviewed.”
Following the criticism, the court spokesman also released a court report on Wednesday, noting a 25 percent drop over the last year in the number of three-yearold cases which have not been concluded by the courts, from 34,164 to 25,763.
Also on Wednesday, the NGO Movement for Quality Government wrote Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein complaining that he has still not decided whether to indict suspects or close the cases of most of the suspects in the Harpaz Affair.
The Harpaz Affair involved a struggle between then-defense minister Ehud Barak and then IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and their staffs over powers within the defense establishment, including over who would succeed Ashkenazi.
The strife included alleged forging of documents and spying on each other’s staff, some of which may have crossed criminal lines.
The movement’s letter noted that it has been some two years since the investigation kicked into full gear, with no final resolution other than a recent decision to close the case against cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit.
In contrast, Ashkenazi, former IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu, and Ashkenazi’s former chief of staff, Col. (res.) Erez Winer, are still in limbo (and to some extent have been since 2010) about whether they will face criminal charges.
The NGO’s letter also cited recent court statements criticizing Weinstein for delays regarding the Harpaz Affair.
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