Perseverance, Not Crime, Pays

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
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Amir Oren
Amir Oren

Like athletes who begin training the moment one Olympics ends and reach their peak just before the next, the Israel Police seem to have cracked the mysterious case of the 2009 Bar Noar gay youth club killings in just under four years.

Some of those involved in the outcome attributed particular importance to the process. The police, one of them said, have the weapon of perseverance. Methodical, thorough work conveys to offenders and the public alike that there is more happening than what we see.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino discussed this last week, just before the suspects in the Bar Noar shooting spree in Tel Aviv were arrested, at the ceremony marking the changeover of commanders of the Tel Aviv District (with Bentzi Sau succeeding Aharon Eksol ). Danino cited data on undercover police operatives and the suspects arrested due to their work, and praised the central units in the various districts.

These past two years, the police have zeroed in on solving murders committed by "unknown offenders." This is one of the indices by which commanders are evaluated each year, but its strength - for better and, too often, for worse - depends on the organizational culture more than on who is actually in charge at the top.

The detectives and their teams on the district level got the job done even in the absence of the central unit's commander, Gadi Eshed, and during changeovers of command in the district.

After countless sophisticated theories proved groundless, it transpired that this was not the perfect crime of a brilliant, cold-blooded and calculating killer who kept his plans to himself and destroyed his weapon. The suspects in the murder (two people were killed at the club when a gunman opened fire ) are miserable lowlifes, quite frequently passing through the world of cops, robbers, journalists and lawyers, whose robes are as black as their views of human nature.

In Courtroom 155, where the duty judge hears remand requests in Tel Aviv, one could feel the tension on Friday, along with seeing the satisfaction on the face of Chief Inspector Yoni Hajaji and his colleagues. Magistrate Court Judge Ido Druyan, seated high above the people like a tennis umpire, oversaw the game between the representatives of the police and the defense attorneys, invoking judicial temperament and perspicacity.

With professional experience that includes 15 years as Tel Aviv district prosecutor, it was easy to see that he did not take the parties' claims at face value. But this is a preliminary stage, whose working assumptions favor the investigating body. The test, as far as the police are concerned, is whether an indictment is filed.

An outcome is also expected soon in solving the case of the "unknown head of Investigations and Intelligence," when Maj. Gen. Yoav Segelovich steps down in August. Along with the office of commissioner, the head of Investigations and Intelligence is the most important in the law-enforcement system. Outwardly, the holder of this office must attain a respectable and authoritative status in the eyes of the attorney general and senior officials in the state prosecutor's office. And inwardly, this individual must be accepted, as an experienced and professional officer, by the district commanders and the units.

Such a combination is rare in the police. In the prevailing either-or circumstances, Danino sought, in vain, a candidate from outside the system (one senior official in the state prosecutor's office accepted, then backtracked ). Segelovich recommended Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki - the commander of the national crime-busting unit Lahav 433 - and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch tends to agree.

When Danino gets back from a police commissioners' conference in Holland toward the end of the week, he and the minister will decide on a round of appointments of police brigadier generals, and on Yitzhaki's appointment - although the latter is not a jurist of the type that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador like. One of the brigadier generals in line for a change of posting, Roni Ritman or Ephraim Bracha, will be promoted to head Lahav 433.

The key might be in the job description. After Lador ends his term, perhaps it would be best to appoint a state prosecutor with an unparalleled grasp of the minutiae of police work. Segelovich has refused the post, in no uncertain terms. That was also the description of the on-going failure to crack the case of the Bar Noar killings, until the day of success arrived.

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