'I convinced 'H' to complain about Ramon'

By DAN IZENBERG
November 7, 2006 04:01
4 minute read.

 
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Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, the prime minister's military attache, told Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Monday he was the one who persuaded Heh to lodge a complaint against former Justice Minister Haim Ramon with the police. "I said to her that if this had happened to one of her soldiers, what would she have done?" Shamni testified. "Would she have papered it over? And she told me, 'No.' I said to her that she had to act according to these same standards, that she couldn't just give up on this norm of behavior." Shamni said this moment was the turning point in their conversation and that for the first time she became open to the possibility of complaining against Ramon. He told the court he had found out about the incident between Heh and Ramon one day after it happened from the head of his office, Liad Oz. Shamni told her Heh had to complain, and Oz told him she had tried to persuade her to do so but that Heh was determined not to. Shamni said he would wait a few days and if Heh still refused, he would go the police himself. "I was very surprised when I heard this story," said Shamni. "I couldn't believe it could happen in the Prime Minister's Office. I felt it was a very unworthy deed. My attitude toward my soldiers is one of a commander and, in some ways, a father, and I felt this was an act that could not just be ignored." Shamni said he asked Oz to arrange a meeting for Heh with Dvora Hassid, who was in charge of women's affairs in his office. Heh told Hassid she did not want to complain. Meanwhile, Shamni called the IDF's judge advocate-general to consult with him about what to do. It turned out that he had already been informed of the incident by Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, head of the Police Intelligence and Investigation Unit. From this, Shamni said, he understood that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz also knew about the incident and that it could just be swept under the carpet. On Friday of the same week, Shamni was due to attend a farewell party for Heh, who was being released from the army. However, Heh cancelled the party. That same day, he learned from Danino that Heh was about to leave for a trip to South America. Shamni asked Heh to meet him the following day. Before the meeting, at Danino's suggestion, he met with police Dep.-Cmdr. Miri Golan. Shamni told the court he agreed to meet Golan because he needed her to explain to him about the procedures involved in lodging a complaint. Afterward, he met with Heh and asked her to tell him what had happened to her. "She told me," Shamni continued, "that after the soldier [who photographed them] left the room, Ramon grabbed her face tightly and kissed her, while sticking his tongue into her mouth. I felt very uncomfortable and didn't go into details. Then I asked her why she didn't complain. She told me she was very afraid, that [Ramon] was a powerful man in a high position who would turn her into a victim. She said, 'I don't want to become a victim. I'm strong, I'll get over this.'" After the turning point in their conversation, Shamni said he asked Heh whether she was prepared to meet Golan. Golan then joined them and during the ensuing conversation, Heh cried all the time. Shamni said he understood that she had been humiliated by Ramon. During cross-examination, Ramon's lawyer, Dan Scheinemann, asked Shamni whether he had had an agenda in persuading Heh to complain. "I had no agenda," he replied. "As a commander, a citizen and a father, I hope that all IDF commanders would do the same. What happened is that the media made Heh's life miserable and I hope this will not deter others from complaining." Asked by Scheinemann whether Heh had the right not to complain, Shamni replied, "I don't agree that an officer in the IDF has the right not to complain. The greatest danger is the norm of papering things over." At this point, Judge Hayuta Kochan interjected that "Heh was free to get up and leave [the conversation with Shamni and Golan]. No one was holding a gun to her head. We are familiar with this situation of trying to convince a woman to complain, sometimes, in the hard cases, even for a year." Scheinemann replied, "This was an assault on Heh's human rights. She had the right not to complain." Afterward, he added that his client "did not think his behavior was proper. He doesn't think he should have kissed Heh. But it was a kiss by mutual consent." Earlier in the morning, Ronit Lugasi, a stenographer in the office, told the court that she was the first person Heh spoke to after the incident with Ramon. She told Lugasi she did not want to complain and wanted to fly to South America with peace of mind. When Lugasi advised Heh to talk to Shamni about what had happened, she refused, saying that Shamni would want to make a big thing of it. Lugasi described Heh as agitated and trembling when she spoke to her. But in cross-examination, she said Heh had not told her that she had given Ramon her phone number or that she had proposed that he go with her to Costa Rica. Yaniv Cohen, the soldier who took the pictures of Ramon and Heh, said both of them had behaved badly. He said Heh had behaved irresponsibly and Ramon had acted as though the two were very close. "The entire situation was very hypocritical," he told the court.

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