Courts Rejected 3 Police Wiretaps Last Year, Okayed 397

The court system last year approved all but three police requests to carry out wiretaps, the courts told a Knesset committee recently. The Be'er Sheva District Court accepted 202 wiretap requests, refusing none, with the courts overall denying only three requests out of 400.

The Courts Administration submitted the data to the parliamentary investigative committee on wiretaps. According to the figures, the police and other executive bodies requested 96 wiretaps from the Jerusalem District Court. Only one of these was denied. The record for refusing wiretaps in the Jerusalem District Court was set in 2005, with five refusals. The Haifa District Court rejected two requests out of 102. The figures do not include the Tel Aviv and Nazareth District Courts, which were not surveyed.

The committee examining the data will try to establish whether the police requested wiretaps only from judges who would be inclined to authorize them. The committee was formed following omissions that had been discovered during the sexual misconduct trial of former justice minister Haim Ramon. The law on wiretaps stipulates that the police need the consent of the president of a district court to carry out such an operation.

Of the wiretap requests submitted to the Jerusalem District Court, only 10 percent cited terrorist activity. Forty percent cited the general reference "conspiring to commit a crime."

The 202 wiretap requests the Be'er Sheva District Court received last year compared with only 124 in 2005.

The police say there is a low refusal rate because they are extremely cautious before requesting a wiretap.