Zeiler 298.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
If Asst.-Cmdr. Amir Gur appeared wary as he began to read his testimony before the Zeiler Commission, his fears were confirmed by the time he emerged over eight hours later after undergoing harsh - and effective - cross-examination at the hands of attorney Boaz Ben Zur.
Ben Zur, who represents Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy, hammered at Gur's credibility over the course of over two hours of questioning, during which he called attention to alleged chronological inaccuracies in Gur's previous testimony.
Gur's testimony in earlier sessions of the commission had been one of the central bases for the allegations against Levy, who has been accused of maintaining inappropriate and even illegal relations with the Perinian crime family. Throughout the commission hearings, Levy's nomination to head a sensitive unit in light of the suspicions against him has been a key issue.
Since the December 2005 beginning of testimony before the Zeiler Commission, Levy and now his defense team have tried to argue that all claims of Levy's involvement with organized crime stemmed from professional jealousy against Levy, mostly coming from Gur. On Tuesday, the team drew blood.
After Gur offered a statement in his defense against charges made in a warning letter issued to him by the committee in May, Ben Zur began his lengthy - and often loud and hostile - attack. While arousing committee head Vardimos Zeiler's anger for leaving out key details in his questions, Ben Zur managed to poke serious holes in Gur's chronology, including Gur's claims that Levy from the beginning had had a problematic relationship with the investigation into the 1999 murder of underworld figure Pinhas Buhbout.
Ben Zur pointed to a conversation that was reportedly held following the receipt of a ballistics report that was delivered in December 2000, and questioned how Levy could have been present in the offices at the time when he had assumed the position of Ashkelon Station Chief in November of that year. He went on to question how Levy could have been at all involved in the early stages of the negotiations with Ben-Or in light of the fact that records showed that the former police officer was only arrested in mid-November.
The Zeiler commission, led by a former district court justice, is charged with reviewing the way police and prosecutors led the six-year Buhbout murder investigation.
Police believe that southern crime bosses Oded and Sharon Perinian hired former policeman Tzahi Ben-Or to murder Buhbout while the latter was recuperating from a previous attempt on his life. Ben-Or later entered negotiations to serve as a state's witness against the Perinians, but fled the country and was murdered in Mexico in 2004.
Ben-Or was first arrested by police on theft-related charges less than a year after the Buhbout murder. It was the Southern District's Central Investigative Unit that was tasked with investigating the murder, and thus with turning Ben-Or into a key witness.
Levy was appointed to head the CIU in 2003 despite suspicions that he had been maintaining an inappropriate relationship with the Perinians, whom he used as sources. Gur has testified to the committee that Levy even met the Perinians in his home.
In earlier testimony by former Southern District commander and current MK Yitzhak Aharonovich (Israel Beiteinu), he described the stormy professional relationship between Levy and Gur. Aharonovich said that he did not, as his official warning from the commission suggested, ignore a cloud of rumors surrounding Levy, but that he only first heard the allegations towards the end of his term in office, from Gur.