Gov't Stalls Investigation over Policeman's Death

Justice Ministry stopped committee being formed over alleged suicide of Ephraim Bracha for 'legal reasons.'

Tova Dvorin,

Ephraim Bracha
Ephraim Bracha
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The controversy over the mysterious suicide of former National Fraud Unit chief Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha has deepened Sunday, after the Israeli press revealed that government ministries are divided over how to handle the case. 

Bracha's death was labeled a suicide despite several unclear circumstances surrounding the case - including that Bracha's cell phone is missing.

The Internal Security Ministry set up a special committee to investigate the circumstances of Bracha's death soon after the fact, Walla! News revealed - but has faced vehement opposition from the Justice Ministry over the issue, without any explanation. 

"There are many questions being asked about the case, and they deserve proper answers," a senior official involved in the investigation stated to the daily. "However, the Ministry of Justice has prevented a committee being established over the issue, and it is unclear why." 

The Justice Ministry responded that the committee would "raise legal difficulties" and that the Ministry is open to counter-proposals which would address these alleged difficulties - but it so far has received no response, it claimed. 

Trial by media?

Bracha, a Modi'in resident who was married with four children, was 55 when he was found dead in June. He was widely considered to be one of the most senior officials in the Israel Police. 

His reputation was attacked after he was implicated in the Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto corruption case, even though he was cleared of all charges - and the case has been widely cited as a factor in his alleged suicide. 

Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was rumored to be closely involved with. 

Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself. Though Bracha was cleared of all charges, his name was still tainted by the process. 

Later, in the days before Bracha's death, the senior officer was involved in passing along information to the police regarding an investigation against several prominent Ashdod businessmen, Walla! noted Sunday. After headlines emerged calling Bracha a "danger to the public," the Department of Police Investigations did not move to vindicate Bracha in any way - and he was found dead days later.