Panel to hear judge's trial for corruption

A panel of three Tel Aviv District Court judges headed by court president Uri Goren will preside over the trial of Beersheba Family Court Judge Osnat Alon-Laufer, who is charged with having illegally obtained printouts of her partner's cellular phone calls. Goren set the date for the start of the trial for no later than the end of November. According to the indictment, which was submitted to the court earlier this week, Alon-Laufer is charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and receiving property obtained by felony, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. She also is charged with violations of the Computer Law, the Privacy Protection Law and the Communications Law. Alon-Laufer suspected her partner, Ilan Burida, superintendent of Nafha Prison, of having an affair with a prison social worker, the indictment said. She allegedly conspired with a local private detective, Ilan Abramson, to spy on her boyfriend. Abramson allegedly contacted a member of a criminal ring that was able to tap into the computer of Burida's cellular phone company. Alon-Laufer allegedly paid NIS 5,000 to the ring via Abramson for a printout made of Burida's phone calls from April 13 to 15, 2005. When she found that Burida had only called the woman twice during those days, she asked for and received another printout for the following days. Alon-Laufer was also charged with disturbing the other woman by phoning her several times a day to try to find out her whereabouts. According to the charge sheet, she called the woman 46 times in a five-month period between February 6 and July 12, 2005. In another development, the daily Ma'ariv's Internet newspaper, Energy, reported on Thursday that a former judge had lied about meetings she conducted as head of a Transport Ministry committee to review applications for licenses to taxi drivers. Energy reported that instead of convening the three-member committee at the Transport Ministry office in Jerusalem, the former judge, Sarah Frish, would have the applications sent to her office in Petah Tikva where she would approve or reject them on her own. A few days later, the documents were signed by the other two committee members in such a way as to create the appearance that they had all signed on the same day and that the three had actually met. Transport Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia denied wrongdoing on Frish's part and charged that the report was tendentious. "Frish acted properly," he said. "She did not deviate from accepted procedures and committed no crime."