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The Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers suspects that the coordinator of police intelligence and the head of the Ayalon district's detective team were involved in a number of break-ins and accepted bribes from criminals. This emerged Thursday during deliberations on extending the officers' remand at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. The remand of the two officers, who were arrested on Wednesday, was extended for five days.

During the investigation department's inquiries, a suspicion arose that the two police officers acted, over a long period, in cahoots with criminals in the Holon and Bat Yam area, and accepted bribes from them in return for favors. The investigation began in the wake of information passed to the department by Tel Aviv police, where the two officers served for many years.

The intelligence coordinator and the head of the detective team became acquainted with a criminal also involved in the affair when the latter was serving as an undercover agent for the police and incriminated drug dealers in the center of the country. During the period the two police officers were protecting the agent-criminal, the three allegedly plotted to burglarize apartments and share the stolen property and money.

In one case, the intelligence coordinator and the agent arrived in a police car at the home of the coordinator's father-in-law, together with another criminal. The intelligence coordinator and the agent waited outside the apartment while the criminal broke in and stole $46,000 and several thousand euros in cash, jewelry and a pistol.

"We believe the coordinator planned the burglary and did not use the keys to the house that he had in his possession, in order to distance himself from the incident," said a source in the investigation department yesterday.

In the course of their probe, the investigators managed to convince the agent-criminal to testify against the two police officers and turn state's witness. The agent was given recording equipment and managed to record the intelligence coordinator connecting himself to the burglary's execution.

In court Thursday, an investigation department representative said that "this is one of the most serious cases we have encountered." He related that the secret investigation has been going on since December.

The intelligence coordinator is suspected of involvement in the burglaries and stealing the pistol, money and jewelry, while the head of the detective team is suspected of accepting bribes, impeding an investigation and passing on classified information to criminals.

The lawyer for the head of the detective team, Sharon Nahary, argued in court that "he is a policeman loyal to the state, who has to his credit the solving of major crimes," and asked that he be released from detainment.

The lawyer for the criminal suspected in the affair, Yair Golan, said "my client has no criminal record and his name has been mistakenly dragged into the affair."

The police is now investigating whether the three men were involved in additional crimes. "This is not just a general suspicion, but rather has to do with specific addresses and additional addresses," according to the investigation department.

On Thursday the intelligence coordinator denied the suspicions against him, and claimed he is the victim of a conspiracy by persons who want to harm him.