eliyahu winograd 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Military Defender on Tuesday petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Winograd Committee, demanding that the committee keep the promise it made in an earlier petition to inform anyone standing to be harmed by the "findings' personal conclusions and personal recommendations" included in the committee's final report be warned in advance and given the right to defend themselves.
The petition came in response to a letter sent by committee chairman Eliahu Winograd on October 18, informing the Military Defender and others that the final report would be published by the end of 2007 and that the target date would influence the contents of the report.
Although Winograd did not say so explicitly, he was signaling that the committee would not send cautionary letters and allow potential victims of the report to hire lawyers, study the evidence compiled by the committee and defend themselves before it, before the committee published its final report.
Winograd also did not state explicitly what the final report would contain. However, the watchdog organization Movement for Quality Government concluded that the letter indicated that the committee would not make personal recommendations against anyone involved in the failures uncovered by it in the conduct of the Second Lebanon War. The organization petitioned the High Court of Justice last week, charging that the committee would not be fulfilling its mandate if it did not do so.
According to the petition by the Military Defender, represented by Col. Orna David and attorney Yosef Benkel, the Winograd Committee was reneging on a promise it made to the court during an earlier petition on the same matter.
In that hearing, the committee's legal representative, Zvi Agmon, had promised the court that the committee would give advance notice to anyone who stood to be hurt by the final report and allow them to defend themselves before the report was published. Agmon also gave in to the demands of the petitioners, and the court, who wanted the committee to confirm that a person could be harmed not only if the committee made personal recommendations (that is, recommendations to take punitive measures against individuals involved in the conduct of the war), but also if it made conclusions or even presented facts that could cause harm to those involved in the war.
Winograd's vague letter left open the question of what will the final report contain if it does not contain personal recommendations, personal conclusions or presentation of facts that do not hurt anyone and therefore preclude the need for cautionary letters.
David and Benkel made it clear that there could be no such report and, therefore, the report that would be published would, of necessity, cause harm to some of those involved in the war. Therefore, by not sending letters of caution to these potential victims, the committee was violating the promise it had given to the court.
"The petitioners believe that the committee is making a mockery of the High Court ruling and the commitments, announcements and declarations it made to the petitioner and the court to the point that it constitutes contempt of court," David and Benkel wrote. They called on the court to order the committee to send letters of warning and asked the court to issue a temporary injunction prohibiting it from publishing the final report until the court ruled on the petition.