Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told an Israel Bar Association conference yesterday that criminal indictments should not be filed in borderline cases in which it is not clear whether a suspect should be indicted or not.
Speaking at a bar association convention in Eilat, the attorney general said criminal charges should be filed only if there is a reasonable change of conviction, and where there is a public interest in indicting a suspect. He also noted that, although "government corruption should be combated with full force," it should not be "created" where it does not exist.
The responsibility to decide whether to file an indictment falls ultimately upon the prosecutor, Weinstein said, and it cannot "thrown into the lap of the courts" to decide borderline cases. "I don't accept such an approach," he declared, saying that it "involves major harm to both the accused and the law enforcement system."
Weinstein said prosecutors have been instructed to direct their efforts to the primary offenses involved in a case rather than marginal matters. He also counseled against filing additional allegations in an indictment for which convincing evidence is lacking. "We must concentrate on the principal [suspects] against whom there is good evidence and applying a cost-benefit analysis," he said.
Weinstein said it is always important to remember the presumption of innocence accorded every citizen, and that "every person also has the right to dignity."
In addressing the issue of media coverage of criminal cases, he said he opposed granting television crews access to arrested suspects and the release of transcripts of suspects' testimony under interrogation, which he said was not consistent with human dignity.
In this regard, Weinstein said he intended to advance legislation that would bar the release of raw data from criminal investigations, such as interrogation transcripts, until the case against the suspect is presented in court or until the release is approved by the courts. "There is a difference," the attorney general asserted, "between freedom of the press and journalistic irresponsibility."
On the subject of the scheduling of trial dates, Weinstein said he asked State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to issue instructions to his prosecutors to ask for the scheduling of criminal evidentiary hearings on successive days without interruption until they are concluded. He also disclosed that he is in the process of developing standards for time limits during which cases that are directed to the prosecutor's office or to the police prosecutor should be handled.
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