Winograd Panel Seeks Private Attorney Instead of AG Mazuz

Cmte. faces IDF petition to High Court over failure to give advance warning to those affected by war probe.

The Winograd Commission approached the Prime Minister's Office on Monday requesting authorization to hire a private attorney, rather than being represented in the High Court of Justice by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

The Winograd panel, charged with investigating the failures of the political and military echelons during the Second Lebanon War, has hired Zvi Agmon to defend its members against a petition filed by the Israel Defense Forces Military Advocate General.

Two weeks ago, the office of the Military Advocate General petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding it order the Winograd Commission to provide those affected by the report an opportunity to review the evidence against them and respond to it prior to the release of the final report.

In the petition, the attorneys demand that the High Court to issue a conditional order calling on the commission to justify its decision not to notify soldiers and officers in advance of the report findings that could affect them.

Regarding the hiring of Agmon, panel members said that though Mazuz was expected to represent them in court, the chances that senior political and military officials would be harmed by Winograd's report make it problematic for the attorney general to be involved in the proceedings.

The petitioners are also demanding that the court order the commission to provide the soldiers and officers with the material to be included in the report and allow them to cross examine witnesses, call up their own witnesses and present the commission with their arguments.

The Winograd Commission has announced it was taking the rights of those affected by the report very seriously, and that the panel members have consulted Mazuz on the matter.

The panel has said that Mazuz is qualified to represent them, as he has in the past, but since the subject matter is so sensitive and pertains to such high ranking officials, they felt it would be more appropriate that a private attorney represent them rather than Mazuz who provides counsel to the government.