Perinian hearing delayed six weeks

The Tel Aviv District Court agreed on Thursday to postpone for six more weeks the hearing in which Sharon and Oded Perinan are due to respond to the state's charges against them. The brothers' lawyer, David Yiftah, argued in court on Thursday that he needed to obtain all of the information currently coming out of an investigative committee, headed by retired Jerusalem District Court Judge Vardi Zeiler, before answering the indictment. The Perinan brothers, suspected crime bosses in the South of the country, were indicted in October for the 1999 murder of Pinhas Buhbout, a known underworld figure. The indictment claims that the Perinans allegedly hired Tzahi Ben-Or, a Jerusalem policeman, to shoot Buhbout as he lay in a hospital bed recovering from a previous attempt on his life. Interior Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni established the Zeiler Committee at the beginning of December to examine the alleged mishandling of the affair by the police and the state prosecution. Police captured Tzahi Ben-Or, a former policeman and the alleged killer of Buhbout, during an armed robbery attempt. While in custody, Ben-Or gave the police information on the killing. However, the police and the state prosecution could not reach a deal on the terms of a plea bargain agreement for Ben-Or and, fearing for his life, he fled to Mexico, where he was eventually killed. The committee has also been asked to investigate why the police investigation of the killing gathered dust for six years and whether the state prosecution had failed to properly handle the plea bargain negotiations. Yiftah told the court on Thursday that "there is no doubt the information coming out of the investigative committee affects this case, including the serious allegation that police officers were personally involved in the case and that one of the police officers had helped Ben-Or get out of the country." Yiftah said his clients were also waiting for the Supreme Court ruling in the state's appeal against a lower court order confining the brothers to their homes until the end of court proceedings. The state wants to keep them in jail.