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There had been "innocent mistakes" regarding the prosecution's handling of wiretapped conversations, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz told former justice minister Haim Ramon's lawyer on Monday, but no truth to his charges that evidence was deliberately withheld from him.
Last week, after twice denying that the prosecution had tapes and transcripts of wiretapped conversations relating to the Ramon investigation, the prosecution reversed itself and admitted that it had.
Ramon's lawyer, Dan Scheinemann, charged that the prosecution had withheld the evidence because it supported his argument that Heh, the woman who was allegedly forcibly kissed by Ramon, had been browbeaten into complaining against him.
Mazuz explained that on the basis of information alleging that friends of Ramon were trying to tamper with witnesses, the State Attorney's Office had authorized the police to ask Tel Aviv District Court for permission to wiretap phones. The court approved the requests, and the phones of three people involved in the case were wiretapped for less than two days.
On August 23, during a meeting with the police, Tel Aviv District Attorney (Criminal) Ruth David told them to place six wiretapped conversations into a file dealing with the suspicions of witness tampering and to close the file since the suspicions had proved unfounded.
In October, Scheinemann twice asked the prosecuting attorney, Ariella Segal-Antler, about the tapes. Segal-Antler said there were no tapes. Mazuz explained that she had not known about them. "There was no attempt on her part to hide relevant evidence," Mazuz told Scheinemann.
After twice denying that there were tapes pertaining to the investigation of Ramon, Segal-Antler decided to ask the police whether there was any material in the tapes that had been made in connection with the suspicions of witness tampering that related to the Ramon investigation. After studying the list of conversations, she asked for the tapes of 15 of them and decided that five had a bearing on the case.
"It is important to keep in mind that this procedure was initiated by the prosecution, which immediately brought to your attention the results of the investigation," wrote Mazuz. "This fact negates your claim that the prosecution tried to conceal evidence from you."
He added that in the meantime, Scheinemann had also received a copy of the police request to the court for permission to wiretap, the tapes of the five conversations whose transcripts had already been handed over and the certificate declaring some of the tapes to be classified.
Meanwhile in court, Segal-Antler blasted Scheinemann for tendentiously leaking evidence to the media to make the defense's case look better.
"I sat quietly and bit my tongue, and I am trying to understand whether I'm in a court or in a reading to the newspapers," she told the court. "I say in pain, not to mention in anger, that in court, the hearing must be held according to the evidence, not through newspapers. Before the witnesses arrived in court today, their testimony was analyzed by the media and compared to the version of events described by the plaintiff behind closed doors. Even before the ink dries on the letter I sent to Scheinemann, I already hear quotes from it in the media. Matters have gotten out of hand."
In his letter to Scheinemann, Mazuz made the same accusation. "We wish to express disagreement and concern over the fact that material handed over to you for the conduct of the trial, including sensitive material, finds its way to the media," Mazuz wrote. "This is an attempt to conduct the trial in the media and not in the courtroom, as it should be."