The attorney for the main complainant in the rape allegations against Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris told Haaretz Tuesday night that chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas had informed her by telephone that a polygraph had found Burchris to be lying and that her client was telling the truth.
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According to attorney Avital Ben-Nun, who together with attorney Liat Behar-Cohen is representing the main complainant, as of Tuesday she had not been informed of the details of the Military Police investigation, but following conflicting reports about the polygraph released on television Tuesday night, the military prosecutor had called to update her.
Ben-Nun also said that Buchris is aware of the findings of the polygraph test, which was administered last week.
Col. Asher Halperin, the IDF chief defense counsel, who is representing Buchris, said last night: “With regard to the recent series of reports, including the reports tonight of the polygraph, we would note that partial information is being released in the media, some of it distorted, tendentious or based on quotes that we have difficulty believing were quoted accurately from authorized officials. As we have repeatedly stated, we are not able to relate at this sensitive stage to relate to the details of the investigation, without exception, so as not to harm it. Despite the difficulty, we propose that all those involved act in the same way.”
The complainant, a soldier who served under Buchris’ command about four years ago, was given a polygraph test about 10 days ago. She was not called for further questioning thereafter.
According to Ben-Nun, the prosecution did not intend to release this information before investigators had conducted a confrontation between Buchris and the complainant, “but they reported the real results of the polygraph. She is telling the truth and Buchris is lying.”
The IDF spokesman’s office said it would not relate to the details of an ongoing investigation.
Buchris was recently questioned for a third time by the military police, including after the polygraph. He was asked a number of questions in the polygraph, administered last week, regarding the specific sexual offenses alleged against him, and denied all the allegations. The investigators formulated their conclusions for each of the answers Buchris gave. It is therefore possible that the statement Ben-Nun said she received from the military prosecutor related to one of the questions Buchris was asked during the test, and not to all of them.
After three weeks of investigation, it is considered highly likely that progress in investigating Buchris, who is suspected of a number of offenses, the most serious of which is rape, will lead to an indictment against him in a military court.
The main complainant lodged a complaint with the Military Police against Buchris last month. Another woman, who served as an officer with the rank of major in the Golani Brigade, which Buchris commanded at the time, subsequently also lodged a complaint of sexual harassment against Buchris, who has denied all the allegations.
Last week IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot decided to cancel Buchris’ planned appointment as head of the IDF’s operational division, which he was to have taken up at the end of March. Eisenkot also extended Buchris’ suspension by another 30 days to allow the investigation to proceed.
Senior IDF officers said the decisions are not considered an indication of Buchris’ guilt, but only that the investigation is taking a long time because of the seriousness of the allegations.
The main difficulty in the investigation stems from Buchris’ categorical denial of the allegations. However, in recent years the military prosecution has adopted a policy that even when the complainant and the suspect present conflicting testimony, in cases of serious allegations of sexual offenses even when clear supporting evidence of the complainant’s version is lacking, it is enough for the prosecution to consider the complaint reliable to obtain an indictment. Doing so allows the military court to get at the truth during a trial.
In the current case, the main complainant’s testimony has received ostensible support from evidence submitted to the investigators in the form of her psychological file, in which, long before she filed a complaint with the military police, she reveals Buchris’ alleged offenses.
The prosecution apparently considers the complainant reliable, especially considering the complaint of the second woman.
The Military Police intends to hold a confrontation between Buchris and each of the complainants separately.