'No Prisoners X being vanished from face of Earth in Israel'

Yoav Segalovitz departs as head of police intel branch after 4 years; set to be replaced by Maj.-Gen. Meni Yitzhaki.

Ben Zygier 370 (photo credit: Courtesy ABC)
Ben Zygier 370
(photo credit: Courtesy ABC)
Security prisoners don’t vanish off the face of the Earth in Israel and are afforded their legal rights and representation, outgoing head of the police investigations and intelligence branch Maj. Gen. Yoav Segalovitz said Thursday.
“I think the public debate on this subject misunderstands the issue to some extent - every person is represented, their families know and they aren’t jailed in some country of darkness”, Segalovitz said, when asked if there are any more “Prisoner X”s in Israel, whose identities are kept secret, their very existence a state-guarded secret.
Segalovitz, who took part in the investigation of the circumstance of Prisoner X Ben Zygeir’s death in Ayalon prison in December 2010, made his comment at a press conference on Thursday, ahead of his official retirement ceremony on Sunday.
The 54-year-old officer leaves after four years heading possibly the most sensitive post in the Israel Police – the branch responsible for investigations of public figures – including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and ex-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - as well as the top organized crime investigations handled by police. His time at the head of the branch followed two years in which he headed “LAHAV 433” the multi-branch investigative body often referred to as “The Israeli FBI”.
Segalovitz rarely spoke to the press or gave interviews in recent years, and on Thursday he was characteristically tight-lipped, speaking for almost 45 minutes without revealing anything controversial about his years in uniform.
Segalovitz spoke of his absentee relationship with the press. “I believe that in a democratic state the public has a right to know but it’s not a superior right," he said. "There is the right of the public to know, but to know what? This is the question we must ask ourselves all the time.”
He added that on many occasions he found himself trying to balance the right of the public to know with that of the right of suspects to have their privacy protected, and that “really there’s no one protecting the rights of victims, who are typically not part of this debate.”
In regards to his handling of the press, he said, “I don’t like to handle investigations in public, and this is the way it should be in a democratic country”
He spoke about the coming years in the police, saying that he believes that they will continue to put more emphasis on fighting cyber crimes and developing more hi-tech investigative methods.
When asked what mistakes stand out over his 28-year-career, he said he couldn’t think of anything that stood out, the same answer he gave when asked what mentors he had in the police. He gave a similarly evasive answer when asked where police are having the least success in fighting crime, replying “why don’t you ask where we have the most success?”
Segalovitz will be replaced as of Sunday by Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, today the head of LAHAV 433.