Originally published on December 30, 1996.
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the acquittal of former northern district police chief Cmdr. Ya'acov Ganot, on charges of bribe-taking, fraud, breach of trust and abusing his position.
Ganot was indicted in the Nazareth District Court for having allegedly taken bribes from a local contractor, Subhi Tanos. According to the indictment, Tanos gave Ganot several favors over the years, such as painting his house for a fraction of the normal cost and throwing an expensive party in honor of his appointment as district police chief.
In exchange, the indictment said, Ganot persuaded a subordinate not to run for a position on Nazareth's Greek Orthodox executive committee, thereby leaving the field clear for Tanos's brother, and interfered in an investigation against Tanos by preventing his arrest and later getting the file against him closed.
The district court ruled that all these favors were of the type which is normal between friends, and therefore there was no criminal intent involved. The state then appealed this ruling.
Justices Eliezer Goldberg, Ya'acov Kedmi and Yitzhak Zamir agreed with the state that the two men's friendship was not a disinterested relationship: Tanos wanted Ganot's services, and Ganot did not hesitate to supply them. Thus the district court's first reason could not stand up, they said.
However, they continued, the lower court also said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Tanos actually did Ganot any financial favors, and this was enough to justify an acquittal. The state also appealed Ganot's acquittal on charges of abusing his position by making a subordinate do personal work for his family, such as chauffeuring his wife and watching his children. The lower court had said this crime only refers to abuse of one's position vis-a-vis the public, rather than vis-a-vis a subordinate.