Witnesses Withdraw Testimony Against 'Sex Criminal' Israel Police Officer

Trial of Maj. Gen. Niso Shaham, accused of indecent acts and sexual harassment, postponed after alleged victims back down.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
Jerusalem Police District head Niso Shaham. Enforcement will be the same everywhere in the city.
Jerusalem Police District head Niso Shaham. Enforcement will be the same everywhere in the city.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The key prosecution witness in the sex crimes charges against retired police Maj. Gen. Niso Shaham has withdrawn her complaint, the prosecutor in the case informed the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Sunday, and two of three other prosecution witnesses recanted, leading to the postponement of the evidentiary phase of the trial.

The witness informed the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police conduct that she could not testify for medical reasons, leading Judge Benny Sagi to postpone the evidentiary phase of the trial, which was to begin in two weeks. The Justice Ministry unit’s representative, Yitzhak Ronen, said that in meetings with three other prosecution witnesses to prepare their testimony, two said “nothing happened” and they have nothing against Shaham. The testimony of the third witness, a friend of the key witness, was to have shored up the key witness’s testimony, however she now says she does not understand why she should have to testify.

The prosecution can still subpoena the witnesses. If they recant on the witness stand, they can be declared hostile witnesses and the prosecution can request that their testimony to the police be presented to the court. Under such circumstances, the court will have to rule which testimony is more believable.

A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry police investigations unit said: “One of the complainants against the accused approached the unit’s prosecutors over the past few days and said she wanted to withdraw her complaint. It should be noted that the witness did not recant the content of her complaint, but said only that she did not want to testify. The witness also said she could not testify Tuesday for a medical reason. Thus, and for this reason only, the court decided to cancel the session scheduled for Tuesday. The trial itself has not been postponed, and the case will continue to be heard in two weeks.”

The spokesperson also said that the two other witnesses had not backed down from their testimony to the unit’s prosecutors, but “merely said ‘nothing happened,’ meaning that the act they described was unimportant in their opinion, so they asked to be saved from testifying.”

In addition to two counts of indecent acts with regard to two policewomen and one count of sexual harassment of another policewoman, Shaham also stands accused of breach of faith and fraud.

The indictment involves a total of eight women who, according to Shaham’s attorneys Boaz Ben Tzur and Oded Gazit, did not actually file a complaint but rather gave testimony to the police in the course of the investigation that was launched against Shaham.

Shaham is accused of forging intimate relations with policewomen much younger than he, in most cases his subordinates. Sexual encounters with the women took place in his office, in a car or a police facility, at his home, at his mother’s home and at various other locations, according to the indictment.

As the women’s superior officer, Shaham frequently had to make decisions regarding their positions or transfers to other units, and did so despite a conflict of interests stemming from his alleged relationships with them, the indictment states.

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