‘Police, prosecutors should face measures in Ramon affair'

State Attorney's Office rules out conspiracy but notes "negligence."

By DAN IZENBERG
June 29, 2010 05:04
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

Micha Lindenstrauss 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Sunday named two senior police officers and two top prosecutors as having been behind the failure to provide former justice minister Haim Ramon with transcripts of wiretapped conversations related to his indictment, and said the state ought to consider taking punitive measures against them.

Lindenstrauss concluded that the four were guilty of “substantial negligence” but had not acted maliciously.

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The four mentioned in the long-awaited report, which was released on Monday, were Miri Golan, former head of the National Fraud Investigation Unit, Dep. Cmdr. Eran Kamin, who headed the investigation against Ramon, outgoing Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David, and the head of the Ramon prosecution team, Ariella Segal-Antler.

The State Attorney’s Office welcomed the report, which it said “conclusively disproved all the various claims of a conspiracy that people with a personal agenda in support of Ramon had raised.”

Ramon, for his part, called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to order a criminal investigation to determine whether or not the police and prosecution officials deliberately withheld the wiretap transcripts and summaries from the defense.

The wiretapping affair came to light during the former minister’s trial in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on charges that he had forcibly kissed a female soldier employed in the Prime Minister’s Office in Tel Aviv.

Ramon’s lawyer, Dan Scheineman, received information from an anonymous source that the police had wiretapped conversations of the complainant, her commanding officer and Shula Zaken, who at the time was former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief, but had not handed the material over to the defense team.



Eventually, it emerged that the source’s information was correct, and that the transcripts had not been included in the evidence the prosecution turned over to Scheineman after the indictment was handed down, as they should have been. After receiving the tip, Scheineman asked Segal- Antler four times whether such material existed, and each time she said no. Only then did the prosecution discover the file with the transcripts and hand it over to Ramon’s attorney.

Ramon accused the state and the police of deliberately concealing the information because it would have strengthened his case.

The phone conversations had to do with attempts by the soldier’s commander and the prime minister’s military attaché, Gad Shamni, to pressure her to complain. Ramon said their efforts amounted to witness tampering, and that had he known about it, he might have asked the Knesset to apply his parliamentary immunity, thus postponing the trial for as long as he remained an MK.

The problems began when the police asked the court for the wiretaps to investigate suspicions that Zaken had interfered with the investigation.

Investigators suspected that Zaken had tried to convince the soldier not to complain.

However, they added that they had also sought information related to the suspicions against Ramon. As a result, the police transcribed or provided summaries of conversations regarding both aspects of the investigation. Later, however, they opened a separate file for the allegations against Ramon because the state attorney had authorized the wiretapping solely for the suspicions of witness tampering. Thus, the police did not hand the new file to the prosecution and the prosecution did not ask for it.

Essentially, it was forgotten until someone told Scheineman about it.

While Lindenstrauss named only four officials as being responsible for the mistake, he also pointed out that thenattorney- general Menahem Mazuz had been legally responsible for supervising police work regarding wiretaps and was also in charge of the two prosecutors who had failed to fulfill their responsibilities.

In an angry response to the state comptroller’s report, Ramon demanded that Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein order a criminal investigation to determine whether the failure of law enforcement officials to hand over the wiretapping transcripts had been deliberate.

“It is true that the state comptroller wrote that ‘it was not proven that the acts were perpetrated maliciously,’ but it must be stressed that the state comptroller does not have the tools to determine whether, when something is done, it was done deliberately or innocently,” Ramon said.

“It is not by chance that the state comptroller wrote that malice had not been not proven (instead of writing that it had been proven there was no malice). There is no doubt that in order to determine whether there was malice among all or any of [the four], there must be a criminal investigation.”

Ramon added that despite all the flaws pointed out by Lindenstrauss, including his recommendation to consider punitive measures, “not only have the police and the prosecution not taken measures against any of those involved in the affair, they have even tried to promote them to more senior positions and ranks.”

“If these were civil servants who did not belong to the law enforcement system,” Ramon said, “there is no doubt that the system would have taken steps against them and certainly prevented their advancement.”

Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) said he would convene the committee in the near future to follow up on the report and implement its conclusions.

Responding to the report, the Israel Police said in a statement on Monday that the state comptroller had acknowledged how police have worked to regulate electronic eavesdropping in criminal investigations.

It also stressed the comptroller’s conclusion that personal failures had been at fault for the shortcomings, and not organizational problems.

“It would be appropriate to note that the main comments focus on the forwarding of case material to the defense, and not on the eavesdropping,” the police said.

The statement added that wiretaps were part of the “success in the war on organized crime” and other criminals.

“Eavesdropping is one of the most controlled processes in the Israel Police, and is monitored in monthly reports submitted to the attorney general,” the police said said, adding that reports were also submitted annually to the Knesset.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch described the report as “serious and in-depth.” He backed the use of wiretapping, saying it was “important that police continue to act without fear and limitations in every way possible against crime. Some of the errors highlighted in the state comptroller’s have been fixed, and the remainder will be fixed quickly.”

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.


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