Police chief: No inquiry commission

Cohen vows to expel five policemen who allegedly targeted Nahariya crime boss with explosives.

police and gun 224 (photo credit: Yaakov Katz [file])
police and gun 224
(photo credit: Yaakov Katz [file])
"I have no intention of setting up an inquiry commission, I am personally sick of commissions," Israel Police Insp.- Gen. David Cohen said Thursday afternoon in the wake of the earlier announcement that a group of five policemen and a civilian had been indicted for targeting underworld Nahariya crime boss Michael Mor with explosives. During a press conference at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, Cohen condemned the behavior of the policemen and said that they would be expelled from the police force. However, he stressed that it was a localized problem only. "I view the incident very severely," Cohen said, emphasizing however the constant dangers faced by Israel's police and their families amid recent complaints that they are being abandoned in the fight against the rampant violence of the criminal underworld. "It is inconceivable that an Israeli policeman worries about sending his child to kindergarten. I, as police chief, need to stop and consider how to increase the personal security of civilians and police officers." Cohen added that he himself had been the target of threats by criminals and his car had been torched. Nevertheless, the police chief went on to say: "I have served on the police force for 30 years and I have never come across police officers who so callously take the law into their own hands." "It is a severe but isolated incident," he continued. "These are good policemen without previous disciplinary problems who severely erred in their judgment." The Justice Department's Police Investigative Department (PID) exposed the troubling incident early Thursday morning. According to assistant PID head Shlomo Lemberger, the incident long under investigation "crossed all the red lines of the role of law enforcement." In what Lemberger described as "one of the hardest and most complex investigation in the 15-year history of the PID," the department probed allegations that police officers used explosive devices against figures in the criminal underworld. The remands of the suspects, all members of intelligence and/or investigative units in the Galilee sub-district, were extended until Wednesday. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to harm using explosives. In a press conference Thursday morning, PID investigators said that they received initial information from police shortly after the two explosives were planted in late 2006, indicating that three policemen may have been involved. The explosives - described by investigators as two "complex" pipe bombs - were planted on October 22, 2006. One was planted underneath Mor's car, and the second was planted the same evening on the windowsill of the home of the crime lord's nephew. The first bomb did not detonate - due to what the PID described as a technical error - but the second bomb did explode, causing damage to property but no casualties. The civilian, described by PID investigators as a pyrotechnics expert, allegedly instructed the policemen on how to build the explosive devices used and supplied them with bomb-making material unavailable on the open market. The civilian has already confessed to his involvement. In addition, one of the policemen implicated in the affair agreed to serve as a state witness and to testify against the other five. The suspects said that they had not meant to kill the targets, but rather were trying to intimidate them and possibly provoke them into taking revenge, whereupon the policemen could arrest them.