Zeiler defends meeting with reporter

Retired judge Vardi Zeiler responded sharply on Sunday to critics who have attacked his conduct of the investigation into the way the police and prosecution handled the 1999 murder case of Pinhas Buhbout and alleged relations between the police and the Perinian brothers, suspected of arranging the killing. Last week, there were calls for Zeiler's resignation because he allegedly met secretly with the presenter of Channel 2's Uvda investigative program, Ilana Dayan. Dayan had aired a report regarding the alleged relations between Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy and the Perinian brothers before the news of the bungled investigation by the Southern District Police first surfaced. "With regard to demands that I suspend myself, I declare that the way these demands have been made is unacceptable," he told the audience at Sunday's committee meeting. "All those groups who think the committee should suspend itself are advised to direct their request to the proper authorities and it will be considered. There is no need for people to talk among themselves and make their opinions known in such a way." Zeiler blasted Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, who said recently that the police were considering not attending the committee sessions. "It is inconceivable to us that a body like the police would even consider imposing a boycott on the committee, which is operating in accordance with the law," he said. He also did not spare Southern District Attorney Yisca Leibowitz, who told the committee members they were not conducting the investigation properly and that they lacked the authority to criticize her. She also charged that the committee's investigation lacked focus. "First of all, we thank Attorney Leibowitz for enlightening us on how to conduct an investigation," said Zeiler. "We have a difficult job. No one likes to be investigated. [However,] we will discharge every one of our responsibilities and ask you not to make things harder for us than they already are."