Analysis: Harpaz arrest, probe, a media show?

Former police investigator says "there is no basis for arresting him."

August 25, 2010 06:00
2 minute read.
Yoav Galant

Galant 298. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Since entering the limelight early this month, the so-called “Galant Document” has dominated headlines and raised troubling questions about cloak-and-dagger plots and bitter rivalries at the helm of the military.

But according to former senior National Fraud Unit investigator Dep.-Cmdr. Boaz Guttman, the intensity that has marked the police investigation into the affair can only be explained by the media coverage of the scandal, not by the relatively minor offense being investigated.

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Suspicions of forgery usually do not result in full-blown police investigations, and have almost never resulted in jail time, Guttman said.

Under pressure from Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, police were forced to act unusually in ordering its elite National Serious and International Crimes Unit to lead the investigation.

Also unusual for document forgery cases, police arrested the suspect, Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, at the airport upon his arrival from a trip abroad, and insisted that he be kept in custody.

“Forging a document, on its own, is a child’s act. You don’t need an international unit to investigate,” Guttman said.

“Media pressure is behind this. There’s no reason to keep this man locked up, other than to score points with the media. This is a show,” he added.

“The investigation does not require Harpaz to be behind bars. Police have seized his computer, and they have either obtained the evidence they need, in which case Harpaz can be indicted, or they lack it, in which case there is no basis for arresting him,” he said.

Guttman, who pioneered computer crimes investigations in the 1990s, and who was a founder of the computer crimes unit, said that from a police perspective, there was nothing particularly unusual about the Galant Document.

“Soldiers have attached fake logos on documents, which they sometimes take from other IDF commands, many times. Sometimes it is done for pranks. No one has ever been arrested for this,” he said. “I have seen forged army documents that have been much more serious.”

In the past, Guttman said, he became aware of a case in which a senior IDF officer deliberately provided false testimony to police, in an attempt to incriminate a rival officer and sabotage his promotion.

“I was involved in the investigation, which was resolved when the targeted officer passed a polygraph test. No one was arrested in that case either,” Guttman said.

“If you put aside the names of the people who were implicated in this affair, we are looking at someone who attached a logo [of the Arad Communications public relations firm] to an unsigned document. I would have never authorized an arrest in an investigation like this,” Guttman said.

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