Prosecution watchdog: Justified complaints at 20%

Ayman Odeh's case has been neglected.

 THE SUPREME Court, Jerusalem: Critiques from Right and Left. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
THE SUPREME Court, Jerusalem: Critiques from Right and Left.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Justice Ministry's oversight czar Liad Meir-Tzadar issued her annual report on Monday, stating that the number of justified complaints against prosecutors and police is currently 20%.

While still high, the percentage of justified complaints in the report (for the year 2021) was actually down from last year’s report (for the year 2020), at 25%, and the year before, at 23%.

In 2021, there were 538 complaints, down from a high of 550 the year before – the first time the number of complaints has dropped in several years.

Meir-Tzadar’s office completed dealing with 94% of the complaints within three months or less, outstripping even last year’s 92% rate of completion. It also finished probing another 50 filed complaints carried over from 2019.

From the 114 justified complaints, 75 related to the state prosecution, 20 related to the police, 13 related to lawyers with special permission to act on behalf of the state and the attorney-general and five related to the former attorney-general himself.

  Gali Baharav-Miara  (credit: TOMER YAKOVSON) Gali Baharav-Miara (credit: TOMER YAKOVSON)

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara only took office in February, so all of the complaints were filed against her predecessor, Avichai Mandelblit.

Regarding specific cases, the report found that a complaint filed by Yamina MK Amichai Chikli against Joint List MK Ayman Odeh had been neglected for an extended period for no reason. The complaint is now being reviewed.

With respect to the Ahuvia Sandak case, the oversight czar said that a police officer who was questioned was not given a proper opportunity to consult with a defense lawyer.

Also, the report said that there were issues concerning the questioning of a news reporter, saying that it would have been better to acquire information less dramatically.

Meir-Tzadar said that in one case, the prosecution closed a file regarding a serious felony without even fully reviewing all of the evidence.

Only because the complaint was filed, was a large amount of video footage discovered that was never reviewed or provided to the state prosecutor involved.

Again, the Police Investigations Department appeared to close a case early against a police officer accused of physically abusing a citizen, without properly reviewing the evidence.

According to the report, the PID sent a letter to the complainant to receive details, but sent it to the wrong address.

When the complainant did not respond (since they were unaware that a letter had been sent to them), PID prematurely closed the file.

The ministry watchdog recommended revising procedures to ensure successful contact with complainants and to avoid premature closure of cases because of an initial lack of response.

In another case, PID said it had dropped its criminal probe against a senior female officer when it learned that the police would be taking internal disciplinary measures against her.

However, when the police dropped these disciplinary measures, PID did not reopen the criminal file, though it was aware of the changed circumstances.