'Police to question Ashkenazi'

Report: Galant probe questioned Spokesman Benayahu 3 - 4 times.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 14, 2010 18:46
3 minute read.
Former IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu

avi benayahu 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Senior IDF officers will be called to give their testimonies to police in the coming days as part of the “Galant document” investigation, a former senior police investigator told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.

The police reportedly plan to call IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to testify in connection to the "Galant Document" on Sunday.

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Sources in the police reportedly emphasized that the testimony is not yet part of a criminal investigation, because they have yet to receive a copy of the document.

Channel 2 News reported on Sunday that police plan to ask Ashkenazi if he knew about the document before it was leaked to the media. IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu was reportedly asked the same question on Friday.

Other questions will deal with the connections between senior IDF officers and public relations offices, and the relations between the officers in the running to replace Ashkenazi, according to Channel 2. The police will reportedly also ask about possible motives for forging and leaking the document.

On Friday evening, Channel 1 news reported that Benayahu was questioned on three to four occasions by the National Serious and International Crimes (NSIC) Unit last week over the affair.

Police have refused to confirm or deny the report, saying that a media blackout has been imposed on all details of the investigation due to its sensitivity.

“They [the police] are walking on a tightrope. They have to question senior army officers, and have the officers take a polygraph test,” Former National Fraud Unit senior investigator, Dep.-Cmdr. (ret.) Boaz Guttman, said.

“This is humiliating [for the IDF officers]. If a media report surfaced saying that a senior army official was questioned, it could finish the officer’s career in the army, regardless of what he did or didn’t do. Hence, the police have to maintain the gag order,” Guttman added.

The Galant document, leaked to Channel 2 last week, claims to show how the Arad Communications public relations firm drew up a plan to damage the reputations of senior IDF officers as part of a strategy to promote the candidacy of OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant for the position of IDF chief of General Staff.

Benayahu, who reportedly has feuded with Galant repeatedly, was questioned as a witness rather than a suspect last week, Israel Radio reported over the weekend.

Referring to the rivalries that exist at the helm of the army, Guttman said, “This is the latest manifestation of previous dirty media campaigns.

Galant’s rivals in the army will have to be questioned.

“Detectives are asking themselves, who profited from this document? Who profited from leaking it? These questions have to be asked. Everyone in the army who could be connected with this will be questioned,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IDF or the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) are likely carrying out their own secret examination into document, Guttman said. “This is happening quietly, and without connection to the police investigation,” he added.

Last week, a police source told the Post that the investigation could go far beyond a suspicion of “forging a document.”

Guttman described the suspicion of forgery as “trivial,” adding, “To draw up an indictment on that alone is minor. The Israel Police does not want to work as a contractor for Channel 2 News, which didn’t do its job properly and failed to check whether the document is authentic.

“The investigators will be looking for additional clauses to add to an indictment sheet, like fraud, violation of public trust, and misusing one’s office. All of these are potential suspicions. You don’t need the NSIC unit to investigate a mere forgery.

NSIC Unit commander Asst.- Cmdr. Haim Ifragan will be looking to add to the charge sheet,” he said.


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