A number of female police officers called to testify in the cases of two police major generals suspected of sexual harassment say they were treated in a humiliating and degrading fashion by Justice Ministry’s investigators.
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One of the officers wrote a letter to senior ministry officials, including Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and the head of the police investigations department, in which she describes harsh, aggressive questioning until she fainted and needed medical treatment.
Since the investigations started against former deputy police commissioner Nissim Mor and the commander of the Coastal District Hagai Dotan, dozens of female police officers have been summoned to provide information in the investigation. The female officers are summoned to testify and not as suspects.
On Tuesday another female officer, who serves under Dotan, gave testimony. The investigations department had received information that she had previously told a number of other police officers that Dotan kissed her in the past. Dotan was questioned for hours on Tueday, until late at night.
Most of the officers who provided information about Mor did not come of their own initiative, but were summoned. The summonses came after the unit received information and analyzed Mor’s communications.
Both police generals are suspected of conducting improper sexual relations with female officers, including ones under their command.
Police received information at the beginning of the week that a number of the women summoned for questioning felt they received harsh treatment from the investigators. The women claimed that the way they were questioned was embarrassing and humiliating, and in some cases they were pressured to confirm things they say did not happen.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino received a copy of the letter that the policewoman sent to the senior Justice Ministry officials. The woman said she was asked whether she had sexual relations with one of the high-ranking suspects, whether he promoted her, and whether he had touched her breasts, said an officer who saw the contents of the letter. The female officer said she answered al lthe questions in the negative, kthen was told she was not “helping” the investigators find the truth. She said at one point she began crying and fainted, but the investigators kept on pressuring her.
The police confirmed that such a letter reached the commissioner.Police say they understand the sensitivity of the matter and Brig. Gen Yael Idelman, the highest-ranking woman in the police force, will handle the matter. Senior police officials say Weinstein must personally supervise the investigations and ensure they are being handled professionally.
The Justice Ministry’s department of police investigations does not deny that questioning sessions such as these can be quite difficult for the female officers testifying. These are often cases in which the women do not want to tell the entire truth since they fear the repercussions inside the police, as well as from their commanders – and that is why sometimes a more aggressive form of questioning is necessary, say those involved in the investigation.
The department, however, said there none of the female officers fainted and there was no improper behavior by investigators. It noted that an investigation is an unpleasant situation and the work of the investigators is very complex, especially when those questioned are not interested in providing the information they have to investigators. The department said further that investigators have been careful to inform the victims of their rights.