Police officer disputes superior's testimony in Perinian case

The Zeiler Committee, set up to investigate the police handling of the Perinian brothers investigation, picked up speed on Tuesday after a senior police investigator contradicted his former superior's testimony before the committee. Police investigator Shalom Ayida, who in 1999 was appointed head of the Pinhas Buhbot murder investigation, told the committee that his former boss - Asst.-Cmdr. Amir Gur - prevented him from conducting a thorough and effective investigation into Buhbot's murder. Ayida said that after policeman Tzahi Ben-Or was arrested for armed robbery in 2000, he asked Gur to question him but was repeatedly denied. Last week Gur took credit for coming up with the theory that Ben-Or was the policeman who murdered Buhbot in his hospital bed, but on Tuesday Ayida said that he was the one who raised the idea. "I heard about Ben-Or's arrest and thought that maybe he was the policeman we were looking for," Ayida told the committee. "I asked Gur four times to question Ben-Or and each time he rejected my request. After the fourth time, he removed me from the case which I had been in charge of for the past year-and-a-half." Ayida said he was surprised by Gur's decision to remove him from the investigation since "no one knew as much about this case as I did." Oded and Sharon Perinian - suspected crime bosses in the south - were indicted in October for the murder of underworld figure Pinhas Buhbut. The Perinians, the indictment claims, allegedly hired Ben-Or - a Jerusalem policeman - to murder their rival Buhbut who was hospitalized after he had been shot 10 days earlier. Ben-Or was arrested a year later for armed robbery but was eventually released to house arrest and fled the country after police and the State Attorney's Office failed to reach a state's witness agreement with him. Ben-Oar was found murdered in Cancun, Mexico in December 2004. The current head of the Southern District's Central Investigative Unit (CIU) and Gur's successor - Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy - has been accused of maintaining an inappropriate relationship with the Perinians - a relationship which the Police Investigative Department (PID) suspected assisted the crime brothers in escaping arrest on several occasions. The PID closed its case against Levy last year. Last week, Gur, currently the deputy head of the Hayarkon District, told the committee that Ayida told him that he could not investigate the Perinians since they "were people he saw coming and going at Yoram Levy's home." On Tuesday Ayida dismissed Gur's remark and told the committee he had never been to his boss's home and that he did not even know where it was. On Sunday, Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi made an official request to appear before the committee. Karadi, who at the time of the investigation was head of the Southern District Police, has been connected to several irregularities including the dubious appointment of Levy as head of the CIU despite reports he was closely connected to the Perinians and even served as a police mole.