The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday rejected an appeal by Haaretz and the business daily Globes to lift a gag order on the names of the magistrate’s court judge and the lawyer suspected of bribing former Bar Association President Efraim Nave with sexual favors.
Judge Zion Kapah ruled that releasing the names would do serious harm to the judge and the lawyer. He based his decision on an opinion submitted to the court by a senior justice official connected with the investigation, which detailed the evidence in the case.
Kapah referred in his ruling to a Supreme Court ruling that in determining the severity of damage to a suspect by releasing their names, the type and severity of the suspected offense should be taken into consideration, as well as the evidence collected by the police. “There is no doubt that publishing the names of the respondents [the judge and the lawyer] even before the investigation has ended will produce destructive results, serious harm both to them and their immediate and extended families. There is no disputing that the suspicion against the respondents is unprecedented in its severity, and therefore the damage that might be caused them is severe,” Kapah said.
Moreover, Kapah said that based on the opinion of the senior justice official, together with confidential evidence submitted to him, there could be developments in the case and the release of the names could lead to obstruction of justice.
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Last week the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court rejected Haaretz’s request to lift the gag order on the names of the suspects. Judge Ala Masarwa ruled that lifting the gag order would seriously harm the suspects and set in motion “a process from which there is no turning back.” Masarwa said that due to the nature of the suspicions, involving sexual bribery, harm to the judge and the lawyer and their families could be “extreme.”
The judge wrote that claims that the names had already appeared in social media did not justify lifting a gag order, especially when “third parties, such as the suspects’ children, are involved.” Masarwa also wrote that “when two weighty interests hang in the balance, the scale tends toward banning publication, taking into consideration future legal complications.”
Nave is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust and acting to further the appointment of a former magistrate court judge with whom he had a sexual relationship. The police also suspect that Nave attempted, unsuccessfully, to have the husband of a lawyer with whom he was sexually involved promoted from magistrate’s to district court.