By YAAKOV KATZ
Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi hinted on Tuesday that investigations into politicians, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Likud Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, would not be completed before the upcoming general elections.
"The police's job is to arrive at the truth," Karadi told reporters during a press conference at his Jerusalem office. "We don't work according to a stopwatch."
Regarding the Cyril Kern investigation against Sharon, launched almost three years ago following the 2003 elections, Karadi said: "This is a complicated investigation that takes time and we, the police, are working together with the prosecution to arrive at the truth."
Sharon is under investigation regarding a $1.5 million loan he received in 2002 from Kern - a Cape Town-based businessman and close friend of the Sharon family. Police suspect that Kern - who has no known business interests in Israel - merely served as a front for other foreign businessman heavily invested in Israel and that the loan was meant to serve as a bribe to Sharon.
Regarding the investigation against Hanegbi which was launched over a year ago per the request of the State Comptroller, Karadi said: "Investigations against public figures are a sensitive matter and demand comprehensive examinations and extreme sensitivity."
Hanegbi, who served as Internal Security Minister and appointed Karadi to the position of police commissioner, was under investigation by the police's Economics Crimes Unit for allegedly making illegal political appointments as environment minister from 2001 to 2003.
On Monday, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz announced he would not suspend investigations against public figures during the upcoming election period.
"There is no intention to suspend ongoing investigations against public figures due to the upcoming elections," Mazuz's assistant Ran Azri wrote in a letter sent to the Ometz organization. In 2002, then-AG Elyakim Rubinstein suspended investigations against politicians in the run-up to the elections.