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Leading candidate is lawyer who was criticized by state comptroller for her handling of Haim Ramon 'kiss affair'

The race for the prestigious post of Tel Aviv district prosecutor is in the home stretch - a successor will be chosen Wednesday to follow Ruth David, who is finishing up her eight-year term.

The three leading candidates are Ariela Segal-Antler, the prosecutor in the indecent-assault case against former minister Haim Ramon; Rafi Levy, a highly-regarded lawyer at the Tel Aviv prosecutor's office; and Gal Levertov, the head of the international department at the State Prosecutor's Office and a former prosecutor in the Tel Aviv district.

Some observers consider Segal-Antler the leading candidate due to her experience and management skills, but she found herself in the eye of the storm a month and half ago when State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss ruled she had been negligent in her handling of the Ramon case.

Lindenstrauss referred the matter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein for a ruling about possible disciplinary or administrative action, but no decision is expected by Wednesday.

Segal-Antler appealed the state comptroller's decision sent to the High Court of Justice, but no ruling has been made. It is thought that without a resolution of the allegations, the selection committee will find it hard to give her the nod.

A Justice Ministry source familiar with the case told Haaretz it is clear that State Prosecutor Moshe Lador wants Segal-Antler appointed to the job due to her professional and administrative skills and his high regard for her work.

But it is thought that Lador prefers to avoid the controversy, especially in light of the growing calls for the appointment of an entity that would supervise the office. The source also expressed doubts on whether Segal-Antler would pass muster with the High Court.

An associate of Segal-Antler said yesterday, however, that it would be unfair to disqualify her from the race simply because she has not yet had a chance to clear her name through her High Court petition.

Levy is also considered a leading candidate for the district prosecutor's job. His more than 20 years of experience in the prosecutor's office include a number of high-profile cases such as the eavesdropping case against the owner of the daily Maariv, Ofer Nimrodi. Levy is seen as an authoritative figure in the prosecutor's office who would be capable of heading the Tel Aviv office.

Levertov's decision to run for the post was a surprise to the Justice Ministry. Although his current job as head of the state prosecutor's international department is prestigious, he has no links to the Tel Aviv district office.

In addition, the recent appointment of an official to head a new department in charge of international claims against Israel and Israeli officials has tarnished the prestige of Levertov's department.