AG Accused of 'Tailoring' Position for Top Aide

Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin

The five finalists for the position of deputy attorney general for criminal matters are to appear before a special search committee tomorrow, amid allegations that the tender for the position was "tailor-made" for a senior aide to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Detractors say the requirements for the position, whose holder will advise Weinstein on cases involving elected officials, were designed to fit Weinstein's senior aide, Raz Nizri.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. right, with senior aide Raz Nizri.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

In addition to the classic definition of the job, one of the most sensitive in the Justice Ministry, as mainly formulating bills and amendments in the realm of criminal law, this time the tender also states that the holder of the post will "accompany and assist the attorney general in dealing with criminal cases and matters in the jurisdiction of the attorney general in his position as head of the general prosecution."

Sources within the justice system say the new post description tipped the balance in favor of Nizri.

Fourteen applications were submitted to the committee, which were whittled down to the final five. Besides Nizri, who was also the aide to Weinstein's predecessors Menachem Mazuz and Elyakim Rubinstein, other prominent names on the short list are deputy national public defender Inbal Rubinstein, and Efrat Barzilai, head of the criminal department in the State Prosecutor's Office.

The search committee, which is chaired by Weinstein, includes cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, Justice Ministry director general Guy Rottkopf, acting Civil Service commissioner Ehud Prauer and an academic representative, Prof. Ruth Kannai.

'No secret Weinstein needs Nizri'

A senior official in the Justice Ministry, who says he supports none of the leading candidates, told Haaretz: "It's no secret that Weinstein needs Nizri, and needs him close by, especially in decisions involving public figures. Nizri has told others in the ministry that Weinstein urged him a number of times not to leave his bureau and that he needed him ... when it was decided to include the addition to the job description, it was as if it was intended for Nizri. This is disconcerting, especially with Weinstein being chairman of the search committee."

An official in the State Prosecutor's Office told Haaretz at the end of the week: "Inbal and Efrat can read a criminal file and immediately understand its weaknesses and difficulties. They are veteran professionals in the criminal justice system and in the management of criminal cases. There is no substitute for that kind of knowledge and experience."

However, the official also said, Nizri's close association with Weinstein will probably be the deciding factor.

Justice Ministry Spokesman Moshe Cohen said that the additional job description of accompanying and assisting the attorney general was "not a condition" for the position.