In a rare move, the State Attorney's Office petitioned the High Court of Justice on Thursday against a Beersheba District Court decision barring an alleged killer from testifying at the separate trials of other defendants suspected of involvement in some of the same crimes.
The rule preventing a defendant from testifying at the trials of other defendants accused of the same crimes is called the "Kinzi rule," named after a Supreme Court ruling 30 years ago. The rationale behind the ruling is that during testimony at another defendant's trial, the suspect will use the same arguments he intends to use in his own trial, which are likely to include shifting the blame from himself onto his accomplices and playing down, or denying, his own role.
The petition centers upon Yaron Sanker, who is on trial in Tel Aviv District Court on six separate charges, including murder and attempted murder.
Meanwhile, two separate trials are taking place. One of them, under way in Beersheba District Court, involves Meir Jano, Yisrael Ganon and David Tzafir. The other, taking place in Tel Aviv District Court, involves Rafi and Moshe Ohana, Shalom Sheetrit, David Akiva and Gal Buganim.
Sanker is accused of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, causing injury with aggravated intention, armed robbery and tampering with explosives. In their separate trials, Jano, Ganon and Tzafir and the Ohanas, Sheetrit, Akiva and Buganim are accused of the same crimes.
Of the six charges against Sanker, one of them is directly connected to one of the charges against Jano, Ganon and Tzafir, while the other five are directly connected to those of the other defendants.
After Sanker was caught by police, he provided details of all the crimes that he and the other defendants allegedly committed. Until then, police had failed to crack any of the cases. Thanks to his testimony to the police, Sanker became the key witness in the trials of the other defendants.
However, according to the Kinzi rule, he could not testify in their trials until his own trial was completed. And while the other trials have made substantial progress and are essentially awaiting his testimony, Sanker has done everything possible to obstruct his own trial, which is therefore lagging far behind.
Despite their obvious danger to the public, Ganon and Tzafir have already been remanded in custody for nine months, the longest period possible without obtaining special permission from the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, there is no end in sight for Sanker's trial. Therefore, the suspects, who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, will either remain in jail for an unjustifiably long time, or be set free despite the fact they threaten public safety.
In the case of Jano, Tzafir and Ganon, the state has asked the Supreme Court to order the district court to allow Sanker to testify in their trial on the grounds that the rationale behind the Kinzi rule does not apply in their case.
In the second case, however, the state concluded that it could not claim that the rationale for the Kinzi rule did not apply. Therefore, it decided to ask the court to abolish the rule.