Watchdog slams police, prosecution's handling of Haim Ramon 'kiss affair'
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss was highly critical in a report released yesterday into the conduct of the police and the State Prosecutor's Office in the wiretapping of former justice minister Haim Ramon in connection to his trial for indecent assault. Ramon, now a member of Knesset for Kadima, was convicted in January 2007 for forcibly kissing a female soldier in what has become known as the "kiss case."
According to the report, the police officers leading the investigation, Brigadier General (ret. ) Miri Golan and the head of the investigative team, Chief Superintendent Eran Kamin, did not ensure that the wiretaps were transcribed and conveyed to the State Prosecutor's Office. In addition, Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David and Ariela Segal-Antler, the senior prosecutor who tried the case, did not study all the material before submitting their indictment.
Lindenstrauss noted that although the officials had demonstrated "substantive negligence" they did not act out of malice, nor were their actions symptomatic of a "system-wide failure."
During his trial, Ramon claimed that the material from the wiretaps had been concealed from him, impairing his defense. He said the material would have revealed that the soldier had been pressured into filing her complaint.
Retired judge Shalom Brand, who examined Ramon's allegations on the request of then-attorney general Menachem Mazuz, found fault with the handling of the wiretaps by law enforcement, but but also found their actions not to be malicious.
Retired judge Vardi Zeiler, who examined the issue on the request of then-justice minister Daniel Friedman, recommended the appointment of a state committee of inquiry to investigate whether extraneous reasons were behind the concealment of the materials, but noted that the officials involved had admitted making mistakes.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, which heard Ramon's claim that his defense had been compromised, found that "harm to the defendant was not significant."
Two years ago, the cabinet asked the state comptroller to scrutinize the issue of wiretaps in general, including Ramon's claims.
The comptroller's report determined that Golan and Kamin should have followed police procedure and ensured that all relevant investigative material was shown to the prosecution before an indictment was issued.
Lindenstrauss found that David acted improperly by signing the indictment without looking at all of the information from the wiretaps, although she was aware of their existence.
"Such an examination could have shown that there were relevant conversations that had not been transcribed," the report said.
Segal-Antler was abroad when the indictment was issued and therefore did not draft the indictment herself or study all the material, Lindenstrauss determined, and did not verify that all the relevant material was made available to the defendant, the report states.
Lindenstrauss suggested that disciplinary measures could be taken against those involved, including delaying promotions and placing remarks in their files.
Segal-Antler and David yesterday petitioned the High Court of Justice against Lindenstrauss' recommendation that measures be taken against them. They said they did not convey a number of recorded conversations to the defense because they did not know about them. Their petition also notes that there is no procedure requiring the prosecution to see transcripts of wiretaps and that the prosecution is only required to look at conversations the police deem relevant.
A statement from the police spokesman yesterday expressed satisfaction that the state comptroller concluded that the police had not acted maliciously and found no evidence of system-wide failure, and that he had noted the importance of wiretaps in fighting crime.
Ramon called on the attorney general yesterday to launch a criminal investigation against those involved in the wiretaps in the wake of Lindenstrauss' report, on the grounds that the state comptroller does not have the means to investigate whether the acts were malicious or not. "In the United States the judgment would have been thrown out of court," Ramon told Haaretz.
Ramon also called for an investigation of the claims by the woman who transcribed the wiretap transcripts, according to which some of the tapes had been erased.