Police chief: We had tip off on Labor voter fraud

Yacimovich names Peretz as suspect in voter fraud during primaries; former Labor chair, now an MK in Livni's party, denies claim.

Amir Peretz 370 (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
Amir Peretz 370
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
As allegations of voter fraud were levelled against former Labor party leader Amir Peretz, National Police Commissioner Inspector General Yochanan Danino said Tuesday that the police had been given information on irregularities within the Labor party, and had consulted with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein before deciding to launch an investigation into the claims.
Danino called on the public to respect the public figures involved in the issue, stressing that speculation could hurt others.
"The police won't be a tool in the hands of any political body. The police will investigate and do their job to find the truth," he vowed.
Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper reported Monday that a former senior minister from an unnamed party was suspected of paying for votes in a party primary in November 2012, and Labor leader Shelley Yacimovich said Tuesday that the reports were about former party chairman and one-time defense minister Amir Peretz, who allegedly engaged in vote-buying during the last Labor primaries. 
"To my great sorrow, the incident took place during the Labor primaries," Yacimovich told Army Radio on Tuesday. "The former senior minister is Amir Peretz, and yesterday we came out with a strong statement of condemnation, which was published today in my name and that of the secretary general of the party, MK Hilik Bar. To our relief, the person who committed these acts is no longer a member of the Labor party."
Peretz and Yacimovich have had a troubled relationship after the former absconded to Tzipi Livni's party shortly before the January elections. 
Peretz has denied the allegations that he gave money to vote brokers in return for support during the Labor primaries.
"It never happened," Peretz told Army Radio on Tuesday morning. "Every payment I made was in line with the regulations of the State Comptroller. I have been through a great many primaries and I have never been cause for comment by the state comptroller. I will not let them besmirch my name."
Meanwhile, MK Amram Mitzna of Hatnua warned Tuesday that while he believes Peretz is innocent, he would have to give up his Knesset seat should he be indicted.
"It's hard for me to believe that there is a basis to these allegations," Mitzna told the radio. "I have known Amir Peretz for many years, and I do not believe he did these things."
But, added Mitzna, who also led the Labor party a decade ago,
"I believe that public officials who are indicted by the courts must excuse themselves from their post."