IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Ofek Buchris.
(photo credit: ELI DASSA)
The trial of Brig.-Gen. Ofek Buchris on three counts of rape and 13 counts of other sex crimes opened on Sunday, six months after the scandal shook the army and the country.
Col. Judge Col. Orli Markman presided over the hearing at the special military court at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv and set the arraignment date for September 29.
For the purposes of the trial, Markman will be promoted to the rank of brigadier- general, as will one other judge on the panel, retired Tel Aviv District Court judge and reserve military judge Zvi Garfinkle, so that they will not hold a lower rank than the defendant.
The third judge on the panel is Brig.- Gen. Yohai Ben-Yosef, who is not a judge, but an operational navy officer and former commander of the Haifa Naval Base – who was selected in part to give an operational perspective to the judges and partially because he is one of the few commanders who has no history with Buchris.
The decision to indict Buchris was made by IDF Military Advocate-General Brig.- Gen. Sharon Afek, who said he did so with a “heavy heart” in light of the defendant’s stellar record as a combat officer.
According to the indictment filed by top military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zigigi, who will lead prosecution of the case, between July 2012 and January 2013, Buchris perpetrated all three counts of rape along with seven other sex crimes against “A.,” a low-ranking subordinate, and another six sex crimes against “L.,” an officer working for him.
The highly graphic indictment describes Buchris forcing A. to have sexual relations with him as well as to perform sexual acts on him.
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Some of the repeat incidents are described over a period of years, but the indictment identifies in significant detail Buchris as having raped A. on April 1, 2011, at a weekend-rental home at Bnai Yehuda Village near Katzrin in the North.
Facing off against Zigigi will be Roi Belcher who was one of former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s top lawyers and is renowned for his fearsome competitiveness in court. Belcher, Oded Savorai and Maya Sagi have taken over the case from Asher Halperin and made it clear that they will deny all charges on Buchris’s behalf.
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