Ezra, Livni order probe of Perinan foul-ups

The alleged bungling of a murder investigation against the Perinan brothers, accused of having a part in the murder of known underworld figure Pinhas Buhbout in 1999, will be the subject of an inquiry committee established Thursday by Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Former District Court Judge Vardi Zeiler was appointed head of the committee. The other members included Nurit Shit, former State Prosecutor in the Central District and former head of Police Investigations Cmdr. (ret.) Uzi Berger. The decision to establish the committee to investigate what has been branded the "biggest foul-up in police history," was jointly made by Ezra, Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz. The committee was authorized by Ezra and Livni to investigate the police's conduct during the six-year investigation which began following the 1999 murder of known underworld figure Buhbout. The committee was ordered to review the way police led the investigation and the conduct of the prosecution which accompanied investigators throughout the process. The committee, which was ordered to submit its findings by the end of June 2006, was bestowed the authority to subpoena witnesses, review classified documents and take sanctions against people who refuse to testify. The committee will focus its attention on trying to discover why the investigation took six years. Oded and Sharon Perinan - suspected crime bosses in the south - were indicted in October for the murder of Buhbout which took place in 1999 as he lay in a hospital bed recovering from a previous attempt on his life. The case, which had sat unsolved on the shelves of the Southern District Police for six years, was finally solved this past summer by the police's elite investigative squad - the Serious and International Crimes Unit (SICU) - a mere six months after the elite unit received the case. According to the indictment, the Perinan brothers hired former cop Tzhai Ben-Or and a known criminal Shimon Elmikayis to dress up as policemen and murder Buhbout. The committee will also investigate how Ben-Or succeeded in leaving the country for Mexico where he was murdered last year after he had already signed a state's witness agreement with the prosecution.