High Court takes Winograd to task

Panel must explain why it wishes to withhold leaders' testimonies.

By DAN IZENBERG
April 4, 2007 00:17
2 minute read.
High Court takes Winograd to task

olmert winograd 298.88. (photo credit: GPO)

Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin issued a show-cause order to the Winograd Committee on Pessah eve, instructing the panel to explain why it does not want to publish the censored testimonies of the prime minister, defense minister and former chief of General Staff before the end of April, when the committee is due to release its interim report on last summer's war in the North. In issuing the show-cause order, Rivlin rejected, at least for the time being, the state's request to publish the censored testimonies of the three war leaders only after it releases the interim report. Rivlin also ordered the committee to respond to a petition demanding a timetable for releasing every one of the censored testimonies of the dozens of witnesses who appeared before it behind closed doors during the first stage of the committee's work. The petition was filed by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On, who has been pressing the committee for transparency in its proceedings. Gal-On had already petitioned the court once before, demanding that it allow the public to hear the last witnesses to appear before the committee and for the committee to publish the minutes of the hearings on the same day they were held. The court accepted Gal-On's premise that the Winograd Committee's deliberations should be more accessible to the public and ordered the committee to publish the censored testimonies "in reasonable time." Six weeks later, during which the committee did not publish a single testimony, Gal-On petitioned the High Court for the second time. This time, she demanded that the committee publish the censored testimonies of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former chief of General Staff Dan Halutz before it published its interim report on the first stage of its investigation. During the initial hearing before the High Court on Gal-On's second petition, Rivlin went further than the petitioner, demanding that the committee publish the testimonies before Pessah. On Sunday morning, the state submitted a second response, in which it asked the court to allow it to publish all of the testimonies after it published the interim report. The state wrote that reading and censoring the testimonies is very complicated, and that the truncated texts create misunderstandings, because statements made by witnesses were taken out of context. The state said it had also gained experience from the publication of the first three testimonies on March 22, which also proved that it was too problematic to publish the censored testimonies hastily. In the meantime, the Pessah deadline passed. Rivlin let the matter go, but did not accept the state's new request to publish the testimonies after the interim report. In issuing the show-cause order, Rivlin effectively returned to Gal-On's demand, which was not to publish the testimonies before Pessah, but to publish them before the Winograd Committee releases its interim report.


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