Zeiler 298.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
"I want it written in big, bold letters: This wicked slander is a vulgar lie," Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi told the Zeiler Commission on Sunday.
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Regarding claims that Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy's appointment as head of the Southern District's central investigative unit was done under pressure from former MK Omri Sharon and former minister Tzahi Hanegbi, Karadi said that "all the decisions regarding the appointment of Yoram Levy...came only from relevant considerations."
He added that rumors that he was a member of former prime minister Ariel Sharon's inner circle were untrue.
"In the context of my position in the southern district, I never set foot on [Sharon's ranch]," he said.
Karadi also claimed that certain individuals who couldn't accept his unprecedented appointment to the position of inspector general were trying to ruin his good name.
Karadi was the first person to take the stand in the second phase of the Zeiler Commission hearings. During his second appearance before the commission, the nation's top cop attempted to explain away allegations made in the committee's interim findings that he did not act appropriately during his previous job as Southern District Commander.
In May, Karadi, along with many other current and former police commanders, as well as representatives of the Southern District Attorney's Office and the Police Investigative Division of the Justice Ministry, all received letters warning them that the commission's conclusions were likely to be damaging to them.
Such warnings are distributed before the conclusion of hearings in order to allow the letters' recipients to meet with legal teams, submit additional paperwork or request an additional opportunity to testify before the commission reaches its final conclusions.
Sunday's testimony represented Karadi's opportunity to refute the claims and even to call witnesses to the stand in his defense. The police chief, while agreeing to offer additional testimony and documentation, had said that he would not call any additional witnesses to address the commission.
The commission, led by former district court justice Vardimos Zeiler is charged with reviewing the way police handled a six-year investigation and the conduct of the prosecution throughout, which began following the 1999 murder of underworld figure Pinhas Buhbout.
Police believe that southern crime bosses Oded and Sharon Perinian hired former policeman Tzahi Ben-Or to murder Buhbout while the latter was recuperating from a previous attempt on his life. Ben- Or subsequently entered into negotiations to serve as a state's witness against the Perinians, but later fled the country and was murdered in Mexico in 2004.
Some of the most pressing questions for the police chief - who now holds the dubious title of the first Israel police chief to serve while under official warning - will return to Levy's controversial 2003 appointment as head of the Southern District's central investigative unit, the main force that combats organized crime.
Karadi promoted Levy to the position, despite allegations already surfacing that Levy had questionable ties to the Perinian family. In the course of the promotion process, Karadi ordered Levy to undergo a polygraph test, the results of which were inconclusive due to heavy breathing while answering critical questions. Levy refused to undergo a second such test.
A Channel 2 investigative report in 2005 claimed that Karadi withheld the inconclusive results from senior officers also involved in approving the promotion, but Karadi defended the appointment, saying that Levy's promotion was made according to the strictest regulations.
Testimony before the Zeiler Commission will continue at a rate of one witness per day, four days a week, until this stage of the inquiry is complete. Afterwards, the commission is expected to formulate its findings, which carry wide-reaching implications for the law enforcement community.