Friedmann continues to battle court

Justice Minister weighs bill to prevent High Court from reversing attorney-general's decisions.

friedmann 224.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
friedmann 224.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Movement for Quality Government charged on Sunday that if reports of Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's decision to prohibit the High Court's right to review attorney-general decisions on indictments and plea bargains were true, it could be interpreted as an attempt to influence the upcoming court ruling on former president Moshe Katsav. According to reports in Sunday's media, Friedmann is considering initiating a bill to limit the High Court's prerogative to hear petitions challenging government decisions on security and budgetary matters, as well as the attorney-general's decisions regarding criminal investigations. Friedmann's spokeswoman was unavailable to confirm or deny the reports. However, according to Ha'aretz, officials in his office acknowledged that the possibility was being considered. The disclosure comes as the High Court prepares its ruling on six petitions protesting Mazuz's decision to drop most of the serious charges in the draft indictment prepared by the state prosecution against Katsav and to settle for a much milder plea bargain. Two of the petitions have to do with Mazuz's decision to drop all of the charges in the case of Aleph from the president's office, a decision that preceded the plea bargain altogether. According to reports, Friedmann believed that the High Court should have rejected the petitions out of hand and not conducted the lengthy court hearings that are still going on. As a result of the petitions, the Jerusalem District Court has been unable to hand down its ruling on the plea bargain since Mazuz and Katsav's lawyers signed it in July. During a lecture on Saturday, former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak said he saw no reason to exclude the attorney-general from judicial review. "The attorney-general has powers that are potentially corruptive," said Barak. "No one can review his decisions - not the Knesset and not the government. The only body left is the High Court of Justice." Meanwhile, Mazuz himself stayed out of the fray being conducted over his head. However, before his own functions came to be included among the topics Friedmann hopes to make injusticiable by law, Mazuz had said he believed it would be too difficult to pass legislation determining which matters would be out of bounds for the court. Mazuz maintained that it would be better for the court to establish the principles for what was or was not justiciable according to judicial rulings, one case at a time.