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A Tel Aviv district police officer accidentally erased crucial evidence from the hard drive of Haim Attar, who stands accused of sexually assaulting numerous minors in a high-profile pedophilia case exposed in January.

Staff Sergeant Major Ronen Naziri reported he was trying to copy the hard drive and erased it instead.

The police seized the computer when Attar was arrested, and gave it to Naziri to copy the data.

"As I began copying, damaged sectors were found on the police hard drive and the copying process got stuck," Naziri wrote on January 21, before the indictment against Attar was served. He connected Attar's hard drive to another police computer, "but the same malfunction occured, halting the copying."

He tried again, but this time accidentally copied the contents of the new police disk onto Attar's hard drive - wiping out everything there.

One reason behind plea bargain

This mistake was one of several reasons the prosecution signed a plea bargain with Attar. It will be presented to the Tel Aviv District court today.

Attar was originally charged with numerous counts of sodomy, some of them by force, and numerous counts of indecent acts, all on minors aged 12 to 18 whom he met online. The amended indictment charges Attar with indecent acts on three minors aged 14-16, with their consent.

His attorney, Hai Habar, and the prosecution will ask the court to sentence Attar to five years in jail.

The police said in a statement, "Due to a technical error, a small part of the computerized evidence was lost. However, our professional investigation gathered many other pieces of evidence supporting the plaintiff's testimonies, and the fact that charges were eventually pressed speaks for itself."

Attar's attorney said, "On the hard drive where incriminating evidence allegedly was stored, the accused also had materials necessary for his defense.

"We should note the decency displayed by the prosecution in acknowledging that under the circumstances, a plea bargain was appropriate.

"The difficulty in producing evidence and the desire not to force the plaintiffs to the witness stand brought about a decent, balanced plea bargain," he said.