Court: Comptroller must give Weiner more evidence

Adviser to Ashkenazi gains some additional documents, time to respond to allegations against him, but less than he had requested.

Micha Lindenstrauss 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Micha Lindenstrauss 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The High Court of Justice on Monday ordered State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to turn over additional evidence in his possession to Col. Erez Weiner, and also granted Weiner an additional week to review the new material before having to file a response.
Weiner was an adviser to former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and has been implicated by Lindenstrauss as being involved in some manner in the “Harpaz affair.”
The affair initially was an investigation into a document allegedly forged by Boaz Harpaz in an attempt to undermine Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant’s pursuit to replace Ashkenazi. Over time, it has expanded into an embarrassing investigation into alleged infighting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Ashkenazi and their aides – most notably Weiner.
As soon as Lindenstrauss implicated Weiner in the affair and began to publicly discuss the possibility of criminal charges, Weiner demanded to see all documents in the comptroller’s possession in order to defend himself.
The sides have sparred for months over whether Lindenstrauss has turned over all the relevant documents to Weiner, culminating in today’s hearing in which the High Court ordered the comptroller to turn over additional documents in the coming days.
The hearing was also notable since Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein refused to represent Lindenstrauss, who had to hire private counsel. The two have publicly clashed with regard to the desirable direction for the Harpaz affair, with Lindenstrauss trying to press Weinstein into filing criminal allegations.
The attorney-general pushed back a few days ago, accusing the comptroller of misleading the public as to how he had managed the investigation.
The result of the hearing was not a complete victory for either side, as Lindenstrauss insisted he had no further obligation to turn over documents, whereas Weiner will have to be satisfied with receiving limited additional evidence. Lindenstrauss will decide what additional evidence to turn over with less input from Weiner than had been requested.
Another significant aspect of the ruling was that the comptroller had demanded a response from Weiner to his report on the affair within two weeks.
Weiner won an additional week from the High Court to review the new material his attorneys expect to receive.
One instance where the court accepted Lindenstrauss’s arguments was in affirming his right to refuse to provide Weiner with a complete list of all persons who had testified before him as part of the investigation.
Although Weiner had requested the list, the court agreed that the request was overly broad and accepted the argument that it was not pertinent to Weiner’s defense.
The court also rejected a push by Weiner’s attorneys to disqualify Lindenstrauss from further involvement in the matter on the grounds that Weiner had received documents suggesting the comptroller had decided to recommend various sanctions against him without receiving his response.
The court accepted Lindenstrauss’s argument that the cited reference was a topographical error and that he would remain undecided on his recommendations until receiving Weiner’s response. Separately, the court issued a ban on the distribution of any sensitive national security-related materials to Weiner’s attorneys in order to limit review of the material to his attorneys alone.
In the overall legal scheme of things, the ruling allowed the High Court and the comptroller to avoid a new major legal precedent, which could have allowed any petitioner to demand much greater disclosure of evidence than has been granted in the past. Such a precedent would have been seen by many as undermining the comptroller’s ability to convince witnesses to speak freely, since they would no longer be protected from public exposure of their testimony.