Israel’s Justice Minister and chief justice of the Supreme Court announced Wednesday that a judge suspected of colluding with a prosecutor to fix an upcoming hearing on a case involving a former Netanyahu aide will face a disciplinary hearing – but no criminal charges.
Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and chief justice Esther Hayut announced their decision Wednesday, accepting the recommendation made by Justice Ministry ombudsman and retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin.
Rivlin filed his report Tuesday night at the behest of Shaked and Hayut, recommending that Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz face disciplinary action by the Justice Ministry. Rivlin claimed that there is no basis for criminal charges against the judge, who was revealed to have coordinated an upcoming hearing with an investigator.
In his report, Rivlin wrote that he had found a series of “personal and systemic failures”.
“The direct contact between the judge and the investigator, which began with logistical coordination, quickly deteriorated into a general dialogue, which is forbidden.”
Nevertheless, argued Rivlin, no crime was committed by coordinating ahead of the hearing.
“I brought the Attorney General and state prosecutor into the matter and shared with them in real-time the material that I received. While I myself did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, I still wanted this probe to handled by a professional [prosecutor].”
“And what was found both in my office and in theirs pointed to a serious failure, but no evidence of a crime.”
Shaked and Hayut ordered Rivlin’s probe into the matter following the publication of a series of WhatsApp messages between Poznansky-Katz and Israel Securities Authority investigator Eran Shaham-Shavit ahead of a hearing suspects arrested as part of the “Case 4000” investigation.
In the messages, the Israel Securities Authority official informed Poznansky-Katz of his agency’s intention to request that several suspects’ arrests be extended, telling the judge to “act surprised” when he makes the request in court.
“I’ll practice looking surprised”, replied Poznansky-Katz.
“We’ll request three [more days], but you can really just give [us an extension] of two days,” the official wrote.
“If you keep telling me everything, I’m going to really work to act surprised,” Poznansky-Katz said.
Shortly after the Channel 10 report, the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court took Poznansky-Katz off of the case, assigning the file to another judge.