(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A lawyer who receives investigative material from the police to prepare for a hearing on behalf of a client facing possible indictment will be liable to a year in jail if he leaks it, according to a new provision enacted by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz.
The provision coincides with the handing over to the defense of the material gathered by police during the investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in connection with the Rishon Tours affair. Olmert is suspected of double billing non-profit organizations on whose behalf he spoke at money-raising affairs abroad.
Not long ago, a bitter argument broke out between the prime minister's lawyers, Eli Zohar, Nevot Tel-Tzur and Ro'i Blecher and the police and state prosecution over who leaked information about the investigation of Olmert in the Moshe Talansky affair, in which Olmert is suspected of receiving large sums of money from the US businessman.
At one point, Mazuz looked into the possibility of ordering lie detector tests for everyone in the police, the state attorney's office and Olmert's legal team who had access to the material to determine who was the source of the leak.
In the end, the idea was scrapped because too many people had had access to some or all of the evidence.
In a recent speech, State Attorney Moshe Lador charged that it was often in the interest of the suspect to leak material from the investigation.
In response to the state-attorney's announcement, Israel Bar chairman Yori Geiron said Mazuz appeared to be implying that it was the defense lawyers and not government officials who were behind the leaks.
"I think it must be acknowledged, and so it seems from the overall testimony of the media, that both sides leak equally," Geiron said. "When the attorney-general talks about this phenomenon, he should refer to both sides if he wants to totally eliminate the problem."
From now on, suspects who face a hearing will have to sign a form which states: "We wish to stress that the material has been given to you to enable you to prepare for the hearing which is to take place at your request, and for no other purpose. Therefore, you are requested to safeguard the material and not reveal it, or any detail from it, or give it to anyone except your lawyer, and that for the sole purpose of preparing for the hearing."
The letter refers the suspect to Article 119 of the Penal Law, which is headed "Disclosure in breach of trust" and calls for a prison sentence of up to one year for anyone who violates it.