Policewomen Offer Reluctant Testimony Against Former Chief in Sex Crime Case

'He saved my life, I’m grateful to him,' says prosecution witness in Niso Shaham sex trial.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Retired police Maj. Gen. Niso Shaham at court, November 5, 2014.
Retired police Maj. Gen. Niso Shaham at court, November 5, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Two policewomen who had affairs with retired police Maj. Gen. Niso Shaham, who is on trial for sex crime charges, testified against him behind closed doors in Tel Aviv’s Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday – but reportedly had nothing bad to say about him.

The women had been reluctant to testify against Shaham. One reportedly told the court he had saved her life and she was grateful to him, while the other said she loved and admired him.

The witnesses, like three others with whom Shaham had sexual relations while serving as their superior officer, at first refused to testify against him. However they changed their minds after the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit told them that failure to testify would constitute a disciplinary offense.

Shaham was indicted for breach of trust after having intimate relations with policewomen much younger than himself, in most cases his subordinates. As the women’s superior officer, Shaham frequently had to make decisions regarding their jobs or requests to take study leave or transfer to another unit. He did so despite the conflict of interest stemming from his alleged relationships with them.

One of the women reportedly said at the opening of her testimony that she couldn’t speak and burst into tears. When the prosecutor asked her repeatedly about the things she told the police investigator, she reportedly said, “Leave me alone, I testified. I told the whole truth. I didn’t complain. I’m scared.”

A police investigator said the woman told him she was young and had made a mistake. “I’m trying to rehabilitate my life. It was in the past, long ago, it’s over, it’s behind me,” she said, according to the investigator.

When Shaham was deputy commander of the Jerusalem police district, the woman had asked to transfer to another district for personal reasons, but her direct superior refused. She asked for an interview with Shaham, who told her he would grant her request. About two weeks later Shaham contacted her. The two met at a Purim party a few weeks later, went to a hotel and had sex.

“He supported me, encouraged me to succeed and move ahead,” she reportedly said in court on Wednesday. “I felt he was attentive, I told him I had economic problems. His decision to transfer me changed my life and I’m grateful to him for it to this day. He saved my life.”

She reportedly confirmed that the sexual relations were consensual. She said Shaham’s position was irrelevant to their relationship once she was transferred to another district.

The second witness said she asked not to testify, partly at her husband’s request. She said she met Shaham in the course of their police work. Shaham recommended financing her tuition, she reportedly said.

“I love the defendant and always admired him as a commander, his decisions and professional performance,” she reportedly said.

Asked if she felt dependent on Shaham, she said, “I’m not dependent on anyone, nobody did me a favor here. [The relationship with Shaham] is nobody’s business. I don’t ask anyone about my relations with men and I expect not to be asked about it either.”

The indictment involves eight women who, according to Shaham’s attorneys, did not file a complaint but rather gave testimony to the police in the course of the investigation that was launched against him.

Shaham is accused of initiating 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.

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