If anyone needed further proof of the problematic nature of the plea bargain struck by the state prosecutor with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto last month, the rabbi was quick to provide it himself this week after violating the deal’s terms. Though he was forbidden from doing so until the end of legal proceedings, Pinto was interviewed in the press – and even sent his associates to the media to deny that he had ever given bribes to Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha of the Israel Police. Pinto was meant to confess to doing so as part of his deal.
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Three of Pinto’s defense lawyers, who resigned from his team earlier this week, seem to have worked it out. Now it’s time the attorney general and state prosecutor figured it out, too. Nine months ago, the State Prosecutor’s Office said it intended to indict Pinto on charges of bribery, interfering with an investigation and making threats. Since then, Pinto has proved time and again that he has no regard for law and order.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan should make use of the opportunity afforded them by Pinto and annul this misbegotten deal. It was agreed after the rabbi offered to provide incriminating evidence against Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, the commander of Lahav 433 (the Israeli equivalent of the FBI), who had resigned after suspicions that he had received favors from the rabbi.
It’s unclear why Weinstein took Pinto up on his deal, because Arviv had already resigned last February, thus paying the price – in some way at least – for his problematic dealings with the rabbi. Pinto, however, is facing “ironclad evidence,” according to officials within the State Prosecutor’s Office, and former State Prosecutor Moshe Lador said, “We have abundant evidence painting him as an extremely dishonest and manipulative financial criminal.”
All this should have been revealed during a public trial, one that would expose Pinto’s seemingly problematic dealings with the upper echelons of the Israel Police and the government – which were most likely much more serious than the scandals involving Bracha and Arviv – and would have landed Pinto a much harsher sentence than the single year in jail he would receive through his plea bargain.
The attorney general and state prosecutor must restore the Israeli public’s faith in the legal system, and the integrity of Israel’s democracy. They must annul this embarrassing deal with Pinto, and issue a full indictment against him.