Murder of Criminal Trailed by Israel Police Spurs Calls for Commission of Inquiry

Former police officials suspect an operational failure for which top cops must be held accountable

Former senior police officials are calling for a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the murder last week of a crime gang member who was under police surveillance when he was killed. The officials have called the murder an operational failure which could impact one of the important tools police have in fighting crime.

Five men have been arrested for the murder of the crime gang member, Roman Anton, in Rehovot. Two of the arrested suspects head a crime organization in the city. Their remand was extended by a week, although they deny involvement in the murder.

The victim, 42-year-old Anton of Rishon Lezion, was being followed by police at the time of murder, which happened due to an intelligence and operational failure for which senior police officials may be held accountable. Former senior police officials called for a commission of inquiry to investigate this operational failure.

Anton’s body was found by members of the police’s central unit on Thursday, in an open area near the city’s industrial zone, shortly after he was murdered. Policemen were nearby when the murder took place, but a gag order has been placed on details of the investigation.

In the hearing concerning the extension of a remand on Friday the police requested a closed session, which the judge agreed to. The suspects are Ofir and Amos Lavi, two brothers who head a crime organization, a relative also called Amos Lavi and two other members of the organization, Roman Agronov and David Filos.

Attorney Ehud Ben-Yehuda who is representing the suspects said on Friday that “they have a solid alibi for being somewhere else. They knew the victim, who was a very close friend, but claim that they have no connection to the incident. Most of the suspects are family members who were at a family home together.”

The case is currently being investigated by the police, but may require investigation by an external agency due to the sensitivity of the case. The police realize that if the initial investigation last week indeed revealed an intelligence and operational failure, this will seriously shake up the police’s central district as well as the national police force. A senior police official told Haaretz that “we will conduct an elaborate inquiry over what happened and if harsh conclusions are reached we won’t be deterred from making even personal recommendations, whatever rank is involved.”

Former police officers want the circumstances of this murder investigated. They say that if some suspicions are confirmed this would greatly impact one of the important tools the police have in fighting crime. These former officers want to investigate the responsibility of Central District commander, Maj. Gen. Motti Cohen, as part of the inquiry, as well as the head of the central unit at Central District, Commander David Baoani. They also suggest considering the investigation of the police’s intelligence and investigations unit, as well as the Commissioner’s bureau.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan will soon have to decide on the level of this investigation and choose between an internal police inquiry and a special team consisting of external agencies.