Justice Ministry oversight czar: Prosecution system needs overhaul

Justice Minister Amir Ohana speaks at the Israeli Bar Association on June 10, 2019 (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
Justice Minister Amir Ohana speaks at the Israeli Bar Association on June 10, 2019
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)
The entire prosecution system needs to take a hard look at the excessive delays in deciding cases, the Justice Ministry oversight czar said on Sunday.
David Rozen has been a thorn in the side of the state prosecution ever since his appointment to oversee complaints against the prosecution in 2016.
Unlike his predecessor, Hila Gerstl, he has succeeded in maintaining an open, if tense, dialogue with the prosecution.
Gerstl was the first in her role, and was boycotted by much of the prosecution limiting her ability to do her job.
Rozen came into his office with support from a High Court of Justice ruling, and with a strong reputation as the judge who sent former prime minister Ehud Olmert to jail in the Holyland case.
The specific case that provoked Rozen’s ire involved the probe into the death of a construction worker at his construction site in 2015.
Rozen wrote that the family appealed to him after almost four years had passed without the prosecution making a decision about the case, and found the family’s complaint of grossly unreasonable delay to be justified.
Even a complex case with unique attributes and substantial evidence should not lead to an 18-month probe followed by the prosecution asking for clarifications, which then led to a follow-up 14-month probe, all with no decision, wrote Rozen.
Furthermore, he said, even “a mega case” could not just “get buried” and ignored for such an extended period, especially since such delays explicitly contradicted time-oriented guidelines from the Attorney-General’s Office.
Moreover, he wrote that the case regarding the construction worker was not such a complex case, making it even more unreasonable that it was dragged out for so long.
The entire prosecution system must conduct a global review of their procedures, Rozen said, to “make sure that a case like this never happens again.”
More specifically, he recommended that the attorney-general issue new guidelines making a specific state prosecutor responsible for pressing the police in writing to conclude each specific case within a reasonable time, and for explaining in writing why any extended second-round probe activities are necessary.
Rozen implied that without setting such responsibility on a specific prosecutor, many prosecutors may deal with the case at different times with none of them taking responsibility for its overall progress.
In contrast, once a specific prosecutor must put in writing why more time is needed to extend a probe, they may be more careful about how long the case drags out.
Rozen’s criticism of the prosecution comes only days after Channel 12’s Uvda program implied that the police encroached on the Elovitch family’s attorney-client privilege as part of the Case 4000 Bezeq-Walla Affair probe.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana and Israel Bar Association president Avi Himi both called for a probe of the police tactics in that case.
While Ohana has criticized the prosecution and the judicial establishment non-stop, Himi’s criticism was more noteworthy, as he has generally backed the prosecution and the courts.