A-G aide: Harpaz forged document, to be indicted

Ran Nizri tells Knesset Control C'tee indictment delayed to allow ongoing investigation to be completed.

June 25, 2013 11:52
3 minute read.
Boaz Harpaz

Harpaz 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)

Ran Nizri, a top aide to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, said on Tuesday that Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz will be indicted for forging the Harpaz Document.

Marking the first time the Attorney-General’s Office has publicly expressed its intention of pressing charges against Harpaz, Nizri spoke at a hearing of the Knesset Control Committee with a who’s who of the nation’s security and legal establishments in attendance.

There had been rising speculation that after years of delay in filing charges against Harpaz, the state might have found reasons to drop the case against him.

Instead, Nizri said the indictment is almost ready and that the only reason for the delay in indicting him – two-and-a half years after the affair exploded onto the public agenda – is to allow the ongoing investigations to be completed and to add all additional leads to the indictment.

Nizri added that had the state filed an indictment before completing the investigation, it would have been accused of negligence and jumping the gun.

The Harpaz Affair refers to a document forged by Harpaz in an effort to discredit Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s then-candidancy for the position of IDF chief of staff, as well as shocking and embarrassing related battles between then-chief of staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and thendefense minister Ehud Barak over policy and interpersonal disagreements that eventually became public.

Judge Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Danny Efroni told the Control Committee that he could not give an exact timeline for a decision on whether he would indict Ashkenazi and his former top aide Col. (res.) Ezer Viner.

Pressed by committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) as to whether a decision would be made within two to four months, Efroni demurred, but said that investigators would work as hard as they could to arrive at a decision as soon as possible.

Ashkenazi and Viner are under investigation for violating military law by engaging in unbecoming conduct related to interpersonal battles with Barak during their IDF service. They deny all allegations against them.

While Efroni was mostly treated with great respect, former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss blasted Weinstein – who was not present – and Weinstein’s top adviser Nizri – who was present – both professionally and personally, for failing to file any civilian criminal claims against Ashkenazi and Viner (as opposed to the military criminal investigation). Lindenstrauss also accused them of misleading him regarding the timeline for making decisions, claiming they had said they would reach decisions within two weeks after a meeting, but then failed to do so.

Cohen threatened a state commission of inquiry into Weinstein’s and the Military Advocate-General Office’s handling of the matter if the investigations and decisions did not move forward soon.

Nizri responded equally aggressively, saying that it was Weinstein’s prerogative as the state’s top legal official to disagree with Lindenstrauss.

Ashkenazi highlighted that the comptroller’s final report had found “there was no putsch, nor any plan for a putsch.”

He added that the report said that “neither he nor any of his advisers forged or leaked” the Harpaz Document.

Ashkenazi took responsibility for not earlier reporting that he had a copy of the document to authorities, saying that “I am not free from mistakes,” but also contextualized his decision in light of his feeling that due to the problems between him and Barak, he had no one to turn to.

Ashkenazi pointed out as he started speaking that “not everyone is here,” essentially accusing Barak, who did not attend, of avoiding the public scrutiny that Ashkenazi was ready to face.

A source close to Barak said that he is out of the country and had informed the committee in advance that he would not be able to attend because of prior commitments.

Cohen thanked Ashkenazi for cancelling a planned trip out of the country to attend the hearing.

Others present at the State Control Committee included State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Defense Minister director-general Udi Shani.

Though Shani was also at the center of the Harpaz Affair, on Barak’s side of the dispute, he kept his statements limited to other issues, such as the Defense Ministry’s correction of problems with maintaining security for its classified information.

Neither the IDF nor the Defense Ministry expressed any serious movement toward legislation to set an exact term and process for appointing the IDF chief of staff, as recommended by the comptroller’s report on the issue, but all officials continued to support the idea in principle.

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