The parole board reviewing the case of Rami Dotan, the former Israel Air Force procurement chief who was convicted on embezzlement charges, decided yesterday not to reduce his prison sentence.
Deciding against an early release for the former brigadier general (now a private), the panel emphatically rejected a medical report that claimed that Dotan's health condition is fragile.
In a medical report submitted last October by Dr. Michael Leonid, the chief physician at the Israel Defense Forces' number 4 prison, Dotan's health condition was defined as "dire." Dr. Leonid wrote that the prisoner should not even be brought before the panel, since such an appearance "could cause a sharp rise in his blood pressure, and a stroke or a cardiac emergency."
Referring to Leonid's report and testimony, the panel wrote: "We cannot, as a military tribunal, ignore the nature of the prison physician's appearance before us. Dr. Leonid's conduct was disgraceful, astonishing and infuriating... There are doubts about the physician's professional integrity. We have doubts about the extent to which he told the truth, despite our warnings to him; and we are concerned about the nature of the relationship between the prison's chief physician and the inmate, Rami Dotan."
After throwing Dr. Leonid's testimony out of court, the panel appointed a second physician, Dr. Yaakov Lavi, to review Dotan's condition.
The panel announced that it intended to relay its impressions regarding possible improper relations between Dr. Leonid and Dotan to the relevant authorities, so that they could determine whether a formal investigation of alleged tampering with expert medical testimony should be initiated.
In 1996, some five years into his 13 year sentence, Dotan first appealed for an early release on the grounds of "persistent illness." Since then, five panels have reviewed his appeal for early release on health grounds. One decision, in 1997, to cut his prison term in half stirred a public outcry and was overturned by the High Court of Justice.
Dotan was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from U.S. aid packages by purchasing inferior equipment for the Israel Air Force and then pocketing the difference.