Israeli Justice Minister Files Complaint Against Judge in Telecom-giant Case

Shaked accuses Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz of 'direct communication' with Israel Securities Authority investigator Eran Shacham-Shavit

Revital Hovel
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, March, 2016.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Revital Hovel

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked submitted a formal complaint Tuesday to Supreme Court President Esther Hayut against Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz over the latter’s exchange of text messages with Israel Securities Authority investigator Eran Shacham-Shavit in the Bezeq bribery investigation. Hayut is expected to create an ad-hoc disciplinary court to evaluate the complaint.

The court has a number of disciplinary measures at its disposal, from various degrees of written reprimand to reassignment and dismissal. Shaked appointed Shaul Gordon, a former Israel Police chief legal adviser and president of the Military Court of Appeals, to serve as prosecutor in the case, which will be heard in camera.

In the complaint, Poznanski-Katz is accused of “direct communication with an Israel Securities Authority investigator that included correspondence of a close, friendly character” and “direct communication between the judge and the above-mentioned ISA investigator that included correspondence which included updates on matters connected to the legal proceeding.” The complaint argues that Poznanski-Katz’s behavior constituted conduct unbecoming a judge and that she violated the code of ethics for judges. Specifically, she is accused of failure to uphold the principles of equality before the law and failure to act in a manner that preserves and even increases public trust in the legal process in general and the judicial process in particular.

Last week Shaked and Hayut decided to try Poznanski-Katz in a disciplinary tribunal for her exchange of text messages with Shacham-Shavit in the investigation of graft allegations involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Beqeq, together with its news site Walla. The decision followed the recommendation by the ombudsman for complaints against judges, retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin, to subject Poznanski-Katz to disciplinary action but not criminal prosecution.

In a session of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday that discussed the affair, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said the correspondence between the judge and the ISA investigator was “very, very inappropriate” but did not violate the rights of the suspects and did not constitute collusion.

In response, Knesset members attending the session criticized the mechanisms for supervising the judicial system. In attendance, in addition to Nitzan and members of the committee, were prosecutorial ombudman, Judge David Rozen, Eliezer Rivlin, the head of the Israel Securities Authority and representatives of the police.