AG Rules Ramon Prosecutors, Cops Eligible for Promotion

No steps should be taken against 4 police officers and prosecutors involved in former minister Haim Ramon's 2006 trial, despite state comptroller's finding they were guilty of "genuine negligence."

No steps should be taken against four police officers and prosecutors involved in former minister Haim Ramon's 2006 trial, despite the state comptroller's finding that they were guilty of "genuine negligence," a review conducted by the Attorney General's Office ruled yesterday.

As a result, there is no barrier to their promotion, concluded Deputy Attorney General Mike Blass, who conducted the review.

The ruling is particularly significant for Ariela Segal-Antler, a candidate to become the next Tel Aviv district attorney, and Chief Superintendent Eran Kamin, who is slated to receive a senior appointment at police headquarters that includes a promotion in rank. Legal officials predicted that Segal-Antler is now quite likely to get the coveted appointment.

Ramon said the decision proves that when the Justice Ministry investigates itself, it applies far more lenient standards than those it uses against other civil servants.

"Had it been senior officials in, say, the health or interior ministry who were accused of genuine negligence, the operative conclusions in their case would at least have been disciplinary, and perhaps even criminal," he charged.

That provoked an outraged response from outgoing Tel Aviv District Attorney Ruth David.

"It would be better for Haim Ramon, a convicted sex offender, to bow his head a bit in shame and stop settling accounts with us," she said. "It was an honest mistake; unfortunately, that happens. It wasn't out of a desire to harm him. Ramon should be ashamed of himself when he thinks that a minute before war broke out, what interested him was how to thrust his tongue into a female soldier's mouth."

Ramon was convicted of forcibly kissing the soldier minutes before the cabinet meeting that authorized the Second Lebanon War of 2006.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' report on the case, published in June, focused on the failure of police and prosecutors to give Ramon transcripts of wiretapped conversations relating to his case, or even to inform him that they existed. Ramon later charged that this materially impaired his defense.

Lindenstrauss concluded that this lapse stemmed from "genuine negligence" on the part of Segal-Antler, David, Kamin and former Brig. Gen. Miri Golan, then the head of the police's fraud squad. He therefore asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to consider whether disciplinary or administrative measures should be taken against them.

But Blass decided that no measures were warranted beyond including the relevant portions of Lindenstrauss' report, and of his own review, in their personnel files.

This material will also be brought to the attention of the search committee in charge of choosing the next Tel Aviv district attorney and the police officials who must approve Kamin's promotion, he said, but it does not constitute a legal barrier to their promotion if they are deemed most suitable for the jobs in question.

Blass said the main reason for his decision was that over the last four years, all four people have been probed by Lindenstrauss, by retired judge Shalom Brenner and, in some cases, by the trial court. For senior civil servants who devoted themselves for years to enforcing the law to suddenly find themselves the targets of multiple inquiries and accused of gross negligence is itself a heavy price to pay, he said.

Other factors in his decision included the time that has passed, the lessons the law enforcement agencies have learned, the new procedures that have been instituted to prevent a recurrence of this lapse and the fact that Golan has retired while David is about to do so. All these mitigate against further penalties for the four, he said.

Lindenstrauss' office said in response that the comptroller said what he had to say in his report, which speaks for itself, and he has nothing to add to it.