Daily Israel Report

Earthquake in the Police Force

A commission of inquiry into police activities in the "Perinian brothers affair" includes recommendations for the Chief of Police to step down.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/18/2007, 12:37 PM

All three members of the commission of inquiry into police activities in the "Perinian brothers affair" agree that Chief of Police Moshe Karadi must go; the question is only when.

The Zeiler Commission, headed by retired judge Vardi Zeiler, was appointed to investigate the police's handling of a complicated chain of events including suspicions of underworld payoffs to detectives, a policeman turned murderer who himself was murdered, and subsequent suspected cover-ups.

The report was officially released at 12:30 PM, but its findings were made known in the hours beforehand. One of the three commission members - commission head Zeiler - recommends that Chief of Police Moshe Karadi be fired immediately, while the other two members feel that Karadi should merely not be rehired as Police Commissioner when his term in office ends this summer.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter began meeting over the past few days with former IDF and GSS figures in a search for a possible replacement for Karadi. Dichter will convene a press conference this evening at 7:30. Sources close to Dichter say it is possible he will announce Karadi's dismissal at that time.

MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima), who appointed the Zeiler Commission when he was Public Security Commissioner, said it would be a mistake to appoint a new commissioner from outside the police force - "particularly when there are so many things that have to be repaired in the police."

Karadi served police chief of the Southern Region during the period that the events under investigation occurred, and promoted Yoram Levy - the chief police suspect in the case - to head of an important police bureau.

The harshest recommendations concern former Southern Region Chief Yoram Levy and another leading police figure, Ruby Gilboa. They should be fired immediately, the commission rules, for their relations with underworld figures and for lying to police investigators regarding their activities.

Levy's lawyer told Voice of Israel Radio that he is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court against the commission, and said that Levy's alleged friendship with underworld figures was for the mere purpose of receiving information.

Justice Zeiler, in summarizing the findings before the press this afternoon, said that Levy underwent a polygraph test, but, "in what we understood was a very rare occurrence, Levy made movements that disqualified the test, and refused to come again.  Karadi later said that the test showed that Levy was fit to be promoted. Karadi also said that a thorough investigation of Levy was carried out before the promotion, but we found that this 'investigation' was nothing more than Levy telling his side of the story - including about seven or eight lies - to an investigator."

Jerusalem District Chief Ilan Franko should not be considered for Police Commissioner in the coming years, the commission members determined.

Criticism was also leveled at the Southern District of the Prosecution, including Prosecutor Yiska Liebowitz (daughter of the late Prof. Yeshayahu Liebowitz) and State Attorney Eran Shendar.

Essentially, the investigation focused on murders that were only perfunctorily investigated, apathy and carelessness in sensitive cases, suspicions of ties between criminals and police officers, faulty appointment processes, and a lack of supervisory mechanisms.

One person who was totally cleared by the investigation was former Negev Region Special Department Unit chief Amir Gur - the man who first broke the story.  Gur, who underwent a heart bypass operation in recent months, is said to have made a decision, based on professional and ethical considerations, to come out against what he felt was the "intolerable" situation he experienced in the police force.  The Zeiler Commission originally cautioned him that he might find himself harmed by its conclusions, but in the end, found no fault in his behavior.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that based on the preliminary Zeiler findings, "Israel's law system can be compared to an AIDS patient. Instead of creating antibodies to crime, the police and prosecution help create crime."

Landau Blames Sharon

Former Public Security Minister Uzi Landau said that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bears much of the responsibility for raising Israel's level of corruption to where it is now. "I have no doubt that Arik Sharon has a major contribution to the unprecedented corruption of the political and public framework," he said.

MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) said, "This is an earthquake for the police. Israel deserves a clean and honest police force."

Knesset Law Committee Chairman MK Menachem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) commented on the commission's "grave report," and other politicians called on Minister Dichter to implement the recommendations at once.