Prosecutor Eli Schwartz's criticism of the fact that the attorney general might sign a plea deal with a rabbi suspected of giving bribes, Yoshiyahu Pinto, reflects a disturbing development. And Schwartz added more than criticism. The Tel Aviv district prosecutor threatened to resign from the case if Pinto receives breaks in exchange for ostensibly incriminating evidence on a senior police official, Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv.
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We may assume that Schwartz was basing his threat on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s recent past. About a year ago, Noam Uziel, also a Tel Aviv prosecutor, resigned under similar circumstances.
Uziel was the prosecutor overseeing the probe against Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger in the bribery investigation involving Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani. After Weinstein closed the case against Danziger for a lack of culpability rather than a lack of evidence, going against the opinion of Uziel and then-State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, Uziel resigned.
Now that Arviv has announced his resignation from the police, the concern is that Weinstein will consider the resignation a direct outcome of the materials Pinto’s lawyers provided and will seek to hold up his end of the deal. A few weeks ago, attorneys Eli Zohar and Roy Blecher provided incriminating information against Arviv in a bid to make the case against the rabbi go away.
Then, with Weinstein’s support, the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct reached a rare agreement with the prosecutors. There would be a discussion on the matter before any decision to launch a criminal investigation against Arviv.
Weinstein should not see Pinto as a small fry whose only purpose is to provide information on senior police officers. There is a concern that Pinto represents a whole culture of corruption.
This is a rabbi who has established a dense network of connections including senior politicians, businessmen, journalists, police and major crime figures. He is surrounded by lawyers and PR people, but he should still be treated like everyone else. No one is above the law; all the more so a person with influence like Pinto.
Weinstein must return to his original position. Two months he intended to indict Pinto, pending a hearing, for his attempt to bribe Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha. Everyone involved in questioning Pinto believed that the material justified the charge. Weinstein must do his duty to the public and issue an indictment.