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Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi opened the latest stage of the Zeiler Commission Sunday proving his endurance as he stood at the witness stand throughout eight hours of testimony.
Karadi took the opportunity to slam detractors who claimed that his nomination and that of Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy were based upon political concerns. He continued to defend his appointment of Levy as well as his treatment of a murder investigation that has become a thorn in the side of the police.
Karadi began by refuting claims that campaign donations had brought about the appointment of Levy to the position of commander of the Southern District's Central Investigative Unit (CIU).
"There is not a person in the universe who can say that political considerations brought about the appointment of Yoram
Levy," he said.
"It is not a secret that certain people seek to attack me," said Karadi, citing, as an example, professional jealousy by Cmdr. Meir Gilboa, who was passed over as commissioner in favor of Karadi.
Karadi said that the media - and even the Zeiler Commission - had become a mouthpiece for unfounded attacks against him.
The commission, led by former district court justice Vardimos Zeiler is charged with reviewing the way police led a six-year investigation following the 1999 murder of underworld figure Pinhas Buhbout, allegedly at the hands of the Perinian crime family. The commission is also reviewing the conduct of the prosecution that accompanied investigators throughout the process.
A large part of the inquiry has centered around the personality of Levy, a senior police officer in the Southern District, who has been accused of receiving bribes in exchange for aiding the Perinian family. Karadi, in his previous role as Southern District chief, promoted Levy to the CIU position, despite allegations already surfacing that Levy had questionable ties to the crime family. In his testimony Sunday, Karadi took special interest in dispelling allegations that he had lied to senior police officers about the results of a polygraph test taken by Levy as a precondition to assuming the position.
The polygraph itself was inconclusive, due to strange movements made by Levy during questioning. However, at least one Channel 2 report claimed that Karadi told officers that Levy had passed the test. During his testimony, Karadi argued that he had never presented the polygraph results as positive, but rather he had said the overall security check did not shown any reasons for Levy not to assume the new position.
Karadi offered testimony to the Zeiler Commission in May, during its earlier phase. Weeks later, Karadi, along with many other current and former police commanders, received letters warning 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, and request an additional opportunity to testify before the commission reaches its final conclusions.
On Sunday, Karadi had the opportunity to testify and call witnesses in his defense, choosing to testify only. Following Karadi's testimony, attorneys for the other officials who received warning letters grilled Karadi in order to clarify their own clients' positions.
Levy's attorney, Boaz Ben-Zur, used the opportunity to question the police chief for almost two hours, raising his voice at both Karadi and Zeiler as he sought to prove that the commission had not fully investigated all possibilities but had rather jumped to a hasty conclusion regarding his client's guilt.
At the opening of the discussion, and outside the room in which the hearings were being held, Ben-Zur reiterated his claims. He threatened to take the matter to the Supreme Court if the commission's findings were unacceptable to his client.
Testimony will continue at the rate of one witness per day, four days a week, until this stage of the inquiry is complete. Tomorrow, Karadi's predecessor in his current position Insp.-Gen (ret.) Shlomo Aronishky will take the witness stand.
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