Ramon accuser didn't want to complain
Stenographer testifies at trial that H. worried minister would get angry.
By DAN IZENBERG, JPOST.COM STAFF
November 6, 2006 00:49
ramon haim 298 88 ch2.
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A stenographer from the Prime Minister's Office testified on Monday in the alleged sexual harassment case against former justice minister Haim Ramon and said that Ramon's accuser, H., hadn't initially wanted to press charges.
"We went into the room of the prime minister's military secretary and closed the door," said Ronit Lugassi, who had known H. for over a year before the young female soldier came to work at the Prime Minister's Office. "She said to me, 'Ronit, I need to tell you something. You're the first one I'm telling.'"
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Lugassi related that H. told her she had asked Ramon to take a picture with her in the office manager's room.
"She said that after the soldier who was in the room left, the minister gave her a kiss," Lugassi said. "I asked her, 'What does that mean, how did he give you a kiss?' She said he gave her a kiss with his tongue."
Lugassi told the court that H. had said repeatedly, "I don't understand how this happened, do you get it?" In her words, the complainant seemed agitated, was shaking, and said that she was not interested in filing a complaint.
"I told her that she had to explain to the minister that what he did was not okay," Lugassi said. "I told her she should speak to [Military Secretary Maj.-Gen.] Gadi Shamni, but she said she didn't want him to get angry."
Earlier Monday, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz rejected claims by Ramon's lawyers that police were deliberately withholding information in the investigation against the former justice minister.
After investigating the issue, Mazuz said that mistakes were made, but that these mistakes were "inflated" by the press and turned into claims of "a conspiracy."
The Attorney-General's office wrote to Dan Sheinman, Ramon's lawyer, that "after checking the matter, no basis was found for the serious...claims in your appeal to the prosecution, including the claim on the matter of withholding essential information from the defense and severe discrimination...of the rights of the accused."
The statement added that "there were mistakes, [made] innocently, but these were corrected, with the prosecution's initiative, as soon as they were discovered."
Regarding the issue of illegal wiretapping, which came to the fore last week, Mazuz declared that all wiretapping requests were cleared in advance with the court and carried out in accordance with the law.
Earlier Monday, Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi emphasized that Israel Police did not eavesdrop on telephone conversations in the Prime Minister's Office.
"If there is a policeman who makes use of this sensitive instrument illegally, it is forbidden [for him] to wear the uniform of the Israel Police," Karadi said in an interview with Army Radio.
Last week, it was revealed that police had recorded phone conversations between the female soldier accusing Ramon of sexual harassment, and her army commander.
Karadi added that these days, the police listen in on the conversations of several dozen Israeli citizens, but that these cases of wiretapping are authorized by the court.
On Sunday, the prosecution asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court to hold all of Ramon's trial behind closed doors for security reasons, but the request was turned down before the trial resumed on Monday.
Regarding the wiretapping allegations, Channel 10 reported Sunday that the police had already been wiretapping the telephone of Shula Zaken, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bureau chief, in connection with another criminal investigation, when they began listening to conversations connected to Ramon on July 20.
Speculation that there was a second investigation involving Zaken first appeared in Sunday's edition of Haaretz. Channel 10 reporter Baruch Kra reported that he had found proof that the Haaretz report was correct.
According to Kra, one reason for the claim by Ramon's lawyers that the police had conducted some of the wiretappings without the court's permission had to do with the fact that they had already received permission to wiretap Zaken's phone prior to July 20 in connection with a different investigation.
In a related development, the Movement for Quality Government called on Acting Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to conduct an external inquiry into why the police and the prosecution withheld from Ramon's lawyers the wiretapping of three of the witnesses in the affair.
In addition to Zaken, the police also wiretapped the cellphones of the plaintiff, Heh, and her army commander, who was the one who first lodged a complaint with police against Ramon in Heh's name.
The prosecutor in the case, Ariella Segal-Antler, wrote twice to Ramon's lawyers last month denying that the police had conducted wiretaps during the investigation. On October 31, however, she admitted that the police had listened to the cellphones of the three witnesses for 24 hours.
Last week, Mazuz issued a statement defending the prosecutor and maintaining that the wiretaps had nothing to do with the investigation against Ramon, but were meant to investigate suspicions that Ramon's supporters had tried to interfere with the police investigation by putting pressure on the plaintiff to drop her complaint.
Segal-Antler handed over the transcripts of the tape last Wednesday. However, Ramon's lawyers said over the weekend that they had only received four out of 93 transcripts of phone calls made by Heh, one out of 21 phone calls by her commander and none of the phone calls made by Zaken. On Sunday, the lawyers said no additional transcripts had been made available that day.
The Justice Ministry has refused to reply to any of the allegations raised by the lawyers. When The Jerusalem Post submitted queries to the Justice Ministry, asking it to confirm how many transcripts of the taped conversations had been sent to the lawyers and whether the police had received permission for all of the wiretaps they conducted, the ministry's response was, "We will not discuss an ongoing case that is being conducted behind closed doors. The place to hear the arguments is in court."
Ramon's lawyers have objected to the state's request to hold the rest of the trial behind closed doors. The prosecution told the court it wanted to hold the trial behind closed doors because the events took place in the Prime Minister's Office and information might be divulged that would affect national security. One source said rather than protecting national security, the prosecution looked like it wanted to cover up its conduct.
The lawyers also rejected the prosecution's claim that the transcripts did not have a direct bearing on Ramon's case. Rather than indicating that the former minister's supporters had tried to influence the plaintiff, the transcripts proved that the police had put heavy pressure on her to complain against Ramon, even though she allegedly did not want to.
For example, according to one of the transcripts, Heh told her father that she had no choice but to complain because the head of the investigating team, Lt.-Cmdr. Miri Golan, head of the National Fraud Squad, had told her that she had no choice. If she did not lodge a complaint before she flew to South America for her post-army trip, Ramon would be able to sue her for slander, Golan reportedly said.