Israel Police officer 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The police and state prosecutors closed “a significant” portion of criminal
cases and chose not to prosecute suspects, despite lacking a good basis for
their decision, a report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
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The report, based on findings taken from February to August in
2010, criticized police for “closing cases without the proper authority, and
said officers “recommended closures in violation of instructions by the attorney
general” in some instances.
Decisions by police to shut 14 percent of
cases under the pretext of a lack of public interest did not stand up to
criteria, Lindenstrauss said.
In 10% of cases shut by police with the
justification of a lack of public interest, evidence was lacking for an
indictment, the report said, suggesting that authorities had covered up for
their inability to gather sufficient evidence by using the “public interest”
State prosecutors sent 18% of cases they received back to police
because evidence was incomplete. In 33% of cases sent back, police never
completed the investigations and closed the cases despite requests from
prosecutors for more evidence.
“Police misused their authority to close
cases due to a lack of public interest,” Lindenstrauss said in the
The report also criticized law enforcement bodies for failing to
prosecute cases involving drugs for self-use, as stipulated in drug legislation
passed in 1985.
Police shut down 37% of drug for self-use cases due to a
lack of public interest, the report found. An additional 43% of cases were
closed with a warning issued to suspects.
The report also called on the
Attorney General’s Office and prosecutors to develop a “central, unified,
updated policy” to inform decision-makers when they should shut cases and when
“The policy should reflect today’s reality, and society’s
interest,” the report said.
Former attorney-general Menahem Mazuz
succeeded only partially in formulating such policies, Lindenstrauss
Instructions were lacking on how to proceed in cases involving
violence in the streets, instances of road rage, and violence in nightclubs –
offenses that “influence the quality of public life,” Lindenstrauss
In a statement released on Monday afternoon police said the report
looked at cases from 2009 and that “the police investigations unit is constantly
monitoring the investigations and intelligence branch of the Israel police as
part of its annual work plan, with an emphasis on the matter of closing files,
and whether or not there are grounds to do so. With violent crimes, the
investigations and intelligence branch has laid out guidelines to determine the
conditions under which investigations can be closed.”
The statement added
that they have decided that repeat drug use offenders will be prosecuted and
their cases will not be closed.
The statement said the issue of closing
cases has been examined for a long time by Israel Police and that “as part of
the goals of police to increase the chances that criminals will be caught, the
investigative unit has been appointed to reduce the number of cases where there
is no known perpetrator and to significantly increase the number of
Police added that they “will closely examine the findings
of the report and will implement the appropriate conclusions.”
Attorney General’s Office issued a lengthy response to the comptroller’s report
on Monday, spanning four pages.
In regards to criticism in the report
that law enforcement, the attorney general and the State Prosecutor’s Office
have not devised a centralized policy for prosecuting offenses, or a legal
apparatus that will help come up with this policy, the Attorney General’s office
said they agree with the importance of reaching such a centralized policy,
saying that it will help reduce the number of cases that are closed without a
The statement said that officials in law enforcement and
the state prosecutor’s office are working to expedite legal procedures as much
as possible for the sake of the public good, but added that it should not be
expected that a universal investigative and prosecutorial policy will be reached
for every single offense in the Israeli penal code.
It added that they
agree with the comptroller’s assertion that there is a need to examine the
current legal guidelines, and to update them as needed. The statement cited
recently formulated court guidelines that examined “the serious importance of
reducing the requested time for police investigations, the preparation of
indictments and the holding of legal proceedings.”
They added that the
guidelines are meant to assist in the shortening of the requested time for
preparing indictments in the prosecutions office and the police.
said, they did stipulate that there are cases in which extenuating circumstances
will call for them to extend the time needed for making indictments and bringing
cases to court.