(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday informed Defense Minister Ehud
Barak’s wife, Nili Priel, that her offer to pay a fine for employing a migrant
worker with permission to work as a helper but not as a housekeeper was
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Weinstein’s senior aide, attorney Raz Nazri, who wrote the
letter to Priel, also informed her that the investigation, which he recently
closed, may be reopened if investigators find “additional information” related
to the case.
The additional information that Nazri mentioned referred to
the possibility that officials of the Population, Migration and Border Crossing
Authorities would track down the housekeeper, who has been identified as
Two weeks ago, the attorney-general announced he was closing
the case against Priel for lack of sufficient evidence, specifically mentioning
the fact that the Migration Authority had been unable to find the
Several days later, however, Israel Radio’s military
correspondent, Carmela Menashe, interviewed “Virginia” on the morning newsreel
program, apparently locating her without a problem.
In the wake of the
interview, several watchdog organizations, including The Legal Forum for the
Land of Israel, Ometz and The Movement for Quality Government and at least one
Knesset member, Shlomo Molla (Kadima), called on Weinstein to reopen the
investigation. Some accused Weinstein of giving Priel favorable treatment
because of her husband’s senior position.
But Weinstein, through Nazri,
informed Priel on Thursday that her recent offer to pay a fine and thereby close
the case, was unacceptable.
“According to the directives by which the
prosecution in the Population, Migration and Border Crossings Authorities
operate, the circumstances in your case justify filing a criminal indictment
rather than levying an administrative fine,” he wrote. “The reason for this is
because the migrant worker had a permit to work in the helping branch but was
employed for a relatively long time in housekeeping.”
Nazri added that
the attorney-general had “instructed the Population, Migration and Border
Crossing Authorities, which routinely deals with these matters, to act [in this
case] in accordance with the usual policy. In the circumstances of this affair,
it will not be possible to suffice with a fine.”
He made it clear that at
this point, the attorney-general had still not decided to reopen the
investigation. However, “the appropriate people in the Migration Authority will
look into whether there is new information which might make it possible to
locate the migrant worker,” wrote Nazri. “In this context, we will also consider
the possibility of summoning you to another interrogation in light of the facts
which the authority might uncover following and in the wake of the announcement
of the decision [to close the case.]” The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel
welcomed Weinstein’s decision not to suffice with a fine but to try Priel on
criminal charges if there was enough evidence to justify doing so.
organization filed a petition earlier this week demanding that the
attorney-general reopen the investigation and that he also interrogate Barak,
who allegedly knew about the housekeeper’s illegal employment.
Hila Cohen, a legal representative of the forum, also called on Weinstein to
widen the investigation against Priel to include allegations that she lied to
the police when she told them she did not have the housekeeper’s phone number.
In her interview with Menashe on Israel Radio, “Virginia” said Priel did have
her phone number.