Private eye, attorney wage war of words at Zeiler commission hearing

Attorney accused detective playing integral role in 1998 theft case.

October 19, 2006 00:05
2 minute read.
Private eye, attorney wage war of words at Zeiler commission hearing

Zeiler 298.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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After a stormy day at the Zeiler Commission Tuesday, the pace seemed to slow down drastically Wednesday with the testimony of Asst.-Cmdr. Benny Sagiv. But the drama heated up again in the afternoon as former cop and seasoned private eye Haim "Shogun" Pinhas engaged in fiery debate with attorney Boaz Ben-Zur. Former Southern District Central Investigative Unit commander Sagiv's lengthy testimony seemed to repeat - much to the consternation of committee chair former district court judge Vardi Zeiler - his earlier testimony before the committee during the first round of hearings earlier this year. Following that testimony, Sagiv received a letter from the commission which warned the veteran investigator that the commission's conclusions could be harmful to him. Other witnesses, including Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, offered testimony that the CIU under Sagiv was poorly managed to the point of ruining key investigations. Sagiv's statements Wednesday took three clear directions: arguing that the CIU investigation into the murder of known criminal Pinhas Buhbout remained active throughout his tenure, describing in detail the attempts by law enforcement authorities to turn suspected murderer Tzahi Ben-Or into a state's witness against the Perinian crime family and finally, arguing that the state of the CIU was not as bad as others portrayed. Sagiv cited the limited human resources allotted to the unit - and not mismanagement - as the major drawback preventing the unit's success. At the end of his comments, Sagiv told the three-person panel led by Zeiler that the allegations made against him during the committee hearings had stalled his professional career. "When this began, I was up for promotion," Sagiv said, "and now, I'm stuck in place. Everything I did was with thought and in order to progress in the investigation. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong." The personal aspect of the testimony remained at the forefront following a late lunch break, when the man known as Shogun took the stand to be questioned by Ben-Zur, who represents suspected dirty cops Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy and Ch.-Supt. Ruby Gilboa. Shogun's initial testimony has been central to the commission's probe of an episode known as "The Batteries Affair." The affair occurred in 1998, as the country was under threat of Iraqi bombardment, when gas mask batteries were stolen from an IDF warehouse. During the theft investigation, Gilboa, then head of the intelligence department in the Lachish region, called Shogun, the private insurance investigator, and allegedly told him that for a fee a source could get the batteries back. Gilboa set up a meeting with the source, who turned out to be Oded Perinian, a brother in the southern crime family. Gilboa's superior, Levy told the private investigator that the police received approval for the transaction from the Southern District prosecutor's office, although there are no written records of such an authorization and the prosecutors don't remember giving it. Levy was allegedly present in the corridor when Shogun handed Perinian the agreed-upon sum of NIS 600,000. Ben-Zur grilled Shogun about the cash handover to the battery thieves. He implied that Shogun himself stood to benefit from the exchange, trying over and over to push Shogun to admit to being the owner as well as the lead detective of Gil Investigations, the firm that oversaw the deal with the thieves. During the questioning, which frequently descended into aggressive banter between Ben-Zur and Shogun, the private investigator told Ben-Zur "you are attacking people for your own interests, and dragging in people who are not involved in the power struggles within the Southern District police."

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