Senior Israeli Police Commander to Resign Over Ties With Corruption Suspect

Haaretz reported Central District Police Chief Bruno Stein attended a private party hosted by a prominent lawyer suspected of corruption.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Israel Police Central District Commander Bruno Stein, June 14, 2014.
Israel Police Central District Commander Bruno Stein, June 14, 2014.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel Police Central District Commander Bruno Stein announced his resignation from the force yesterday, following a report in Haaretz that he spent Saturday evening at a private party hosted by a prominent lawyer suspected of corruption.

Only a few guests were invited to the party, at which Stein and the lawyer sat side-by-side and drank alcoholic drinks together. Stein had been considered one of the chief candidates for the position of Police Commissioner to replace curent commissioner Yohanan Danino.

The lawyer in question is Ronel Fisher, a well-known attorney who is at the heart of a scandal involving police figures and the Ashdod port union chief Alon Hassan. Fisher is suspected of asking Hassan, who is the target of several ongoing investigations, for money to pay off certain police officials in return for having the investigations dropped.

Stein’s resignation was decided in a conversation between the district commander and Danino on Wednesday morning, following the publication in Haaretz. He will leave the force when replacement has been appointed. Other disciplinary measures may be taken against him, as well, and the matter will be referred to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.

According to a statement released by the police spokesman, Stein’s retirement from the police was pre-planned and his name was not connected with the Fisher affair. Stein “has never hidden the fact that he has known attorney Fisher for many years,” the statement said.

Fisher allegedly asked police officials for information about plans to arrest Hassan and provided Hassan with information about the investigations against him - an obstruction of justice, if proved. Officials in the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers, which put Fisher under surveillance, suspect that police officials provided the lawyer with the information he requested.

Hassan, in cooperation with the investigation department, gave $150,000 to Fisher, in exchange for the lawyer’s promise to see to it that the investigations against Hassan were dropped.

Fisher was arrested immediately. He did not allow police to search his bag or his car, claiming attorney-client privilege. Fisher said the cash from Hassan was payment for services rendered. Officials in the investigation department say they have recordings of conversations between Hassan and Fisher during which the lawyer said, “If this gets out, we’ll both go to jail.”

Hassan and figures in his circle went to the investigation department because they feared that either Fisher or certain police officials planned to frame him. Representatives of the police investigation department say that while no police suspects have been arrested, that could change.

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