Jerusalem police chief backs Karadi

Says appointment of alleged dirty cop Levy made after strict security checks.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
September 20, 2006 23:53
2 minute read.
Jerusalem police chief backs Karadi

moshe karadi 88.298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Jerusalem District Commisioner Cmdr. Ilan Franco took the stand before the Zeiler Commission for a second time Wednesday, but this time Franco had just one goal - to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had acted properly during his previous position as head of the police's Investigative Division. In doing so, Franco's testimony supported the version of events described Sunday by Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi: that the appointment of suspected dirty cop Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy to a sensitive position was done following security checks above and beyond those ordinarily required for such a position. Levy, a senior police officer in the Southern District, has been accused of receiving bribes in exchange for aiding the Perinian crime family. In 2003, Karadi, in his previous role as Southern District chief, promoted Levy to head that district's Central Investigative Unit (CIU), a unit tasked with investigating, among other things, organized crime, despite allegations already surfacing that Levy had questionable ties to the Perinian family. Franco took particular offense at a claim circulating throughout the testimony that he promoted Asst.-Cmdr. Benny Sagiv, Levy's predecessor as CIU head, in order to clear the way for Levy's appointment. "I didn't know for an instant that Karadi's candidate to replace Sagiv was Levy," Franco told the commission. Taking issue with allegations made in a warning letter delivered to him by the commission in late May, following his first testimony to the committee, Franco emphasized that his role in okaying Levy's promotion was one of adding additional hurdles for Levy to clear - in order to be that much more certain that Levy was not involved with organized crime. "I am standing here today because of a decision I took to do additional checks on Levy," Franco told the commission, whose interim warning letter said that the officer had not done enough to investigate the cloud of rumors surrounding Levy in advance of his promotion. As in other testimonies, Franco's narrative of the chain of events focused on Asst.-Cmdr. Amir Gur as bringing to the foreground the allegations against Levy. Franco said that after his initial meeting with Levy in order to determine general suitability for the CIU job, Gur contacted Franco, saying that he wanted to discuss the issue of Levy's appointment. At the meeting, Gur reportedly told the then-intelligence chief that Levy held inappropriate meetings with criminal sources, including meetings held at Levy's residence, and that he did not document all of those meetings. The Jerusalem commissioner then followed Karadi and Insp.-Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Aharonishky's lead in speaking out against Gur, claiming that Gur had lied when he testified before the commission that Franco had been told about the investigation into the Perinian family's alleged murder of underworld figure Pinhas Buhbout. "The question of Buhbout's murder was never raised before me," Franco stated. Although the main part of Franco's testimony centered around the subject of the various interviews, investigations and even polygraph test that Levy underwent prior to his appointment to the position, he used the final moments of his two-hour-long testimony prior to his cross-examination to take issue with another set of allegations made in the warning letter - that ye had, during the first round of questioning, demonstrated ignorance, and a lack of awareness and understanding of the finer points of the rules surrounding intelligence gathering by detectives. Franco argued that he had been asked about those rules and regulations as an "expert witness" and former intelligence chief, and not as part of an investigation into his performance as intelligence chief, that clause of the warning letter should be stricken.

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