With No Indictments in Sight in Ben Zygier Case, Court Extends Gag Order by 2 Weeks

If the prosecution can't decide on charges by next deadline, it will allow some light to be shed on the alleged Mossad agent's case.

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Despite having promised to inform a court of its decision by Thursday, the State Prosecution still hasn’t decided whether anyone should be indicted for negligence in the case of Ben Zygier, the alleged Mossad agent who committed suicide while in prison. On Wednesday, therefore, it asked the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court to grant it an extension until April 24.

If the prosecution misses that deadline as well, the request promised, it will at least agree to publish those sections of a judicial inquiry into Zygier’s death that it has so far banned from publication. This proviso implies that the prosecution fears it won’t have reached a decision in another two weeks, either.

The gag order on the inquiry report was the main subject of the court hearing on March 24 at which the prosecution made its original promise. Haaretz and Channels 2 and 10 had appealed the gag order, but the prosecution asked to defer its response until April 11, explaining that by then, it would have decided whether or not to indict anyone for negligence in Zygier’s death, and once that decision was made, there would be no further reason for the gag order.

“I think the decision is very near,” government attorney Orli Benarie told the court at that hearing. “And once a decision is made on this issue, we won’t hide behind claims of a national security interest” in maintaining the gag order.

Currently, Benarie added, the state objects to Haaretz’s request for a sweeping removal of the gag order on all the material amassed during the investigation. But if the prosecution decides not to indict anyone, it will review all this material to see which details it no longer opposes publishing.

Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai accepted the prosecution’s position that publishing the material before a decision is made on whether to issue indictments could obstruct justice. But her ruling also ordered the prosecution to submit its decision by April 11 as promised − a ruling the prosecution has now announced it won’t comply with.

Mossad agent Ben Zygier: His suicide in an Israeli prison was concealed by a gag order.Credit: Handout

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