Birthday Trip Spurs Lawyer to Seek Delay in Rape Case Hearings

The backlog in the judicial system is legendary, but despite criticism of the phenomenon by the state prosecution, a Tel Aviv prosecutor has asked the district court in that city to delay two hearings in a rape case because she wants to travel abroad to celebrate her husband's birthday on those dates.

Both sides are awaiting the court's final answer on the prosecutor's request.

Roni Eliyahu was indicted four years ago on charges including rape, sodomy, exploitation and harassment. Eliyahu, 46, was arrested in 2004 on suspicion of heading an alternative-medicine institution without the necessary authorization, charging money for treatment for which he was untrained, and committing sexual offenses against several of his patients.

Snait Fisher-Aharoni, a leading prosecutor in the Tel Aviv district, asked the court two months ago to defer two hearings scheduled for January. The reason she gave was "absence from the country due to personal reasons."

Eliyahu's lawyer, Zeev Ben-Dori, opposes the delay and asked for the reason for it. The judges in the case ordered the prosecution to provide an explanation.

Tel Aviv District Prosecutor Ruth David wrote the judges herself - but once again, without providing details. The judges repeated their request for more information, writing: "We would like to know, in as much detail as possible, what the personal circumstances are that require the prosecutor to be abroad at the relevant times."

Fisher-Aharoni revealed the secret last week. "With regard to the personal circumstances, this relates to joining an organized trip of close friends abroad, among other reasons to celebrate the 50th birthday of the partner of the undersigned, and it was impossible to coordinate other dates for the trip," she wrote.

Ben-Dori told the judges he objects to the "trouble, loss of time and inactivity" experienced by the court, the complainants and the witnesses because of the prosecutor's request. "The defense witnesses and the defendant have been waiting a long time to give their testimony, and the unfounded request, which it would be inappropriate for the court to accept, should not be met," he said.