The Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct is probing the head of one of the most prestigious police units on suspicion of taking bribes from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and his disciples, it was reported yesterday after the gag order on the case was lifted.
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The senior officer under investigation is Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, head of Lahav 433, a unit popularly known as the Israeli FBI.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided, on the basis of the material being investigated, to withhold pressing charges against Pinto in another case until the investigation into the Arviv affair is completed. These charges regard suspicions that Pinto tried to bribe another senior police officer.
Weinstein must deviate from the hesitant policy he has pursued since entering office as head of public prosecution. He must deal with the ramifications of the Pinto case swiftly and effectively. The suspicions laid before him, alleging that Arviv was bribed, are not complicated compared to the intricate Lieberman and Harpaz cases.
The public has a right to know as soon as possible if one of the sensitive posts in the police investigation unit is held by a corrupt person.
Weinstein was about to announce already a month ago that he was going to indict Pinto, subject to a hearing, for trying to bribe police Brig. Gen. Efraim Bracha. Deciding to postpone the indictment is a mistake. By tarrying, Weinstein is enabling the group surrounding Pinto to manipulate the system by raising speculation, for example, that Pinto will turn state’s evidence and thus evade being brought to trial himself.
All the officers who investigated the suspicions against Pinto think the evidence is solid. It consists of recordings conducted by Bracha and his wife documenting the alleged bribery deal.
It is therefore Weinstein’s public duty to hurry up and hold a hearing for Pinto. He must present an indictment if he is convinced that the evidence justifies it, Rabbi Pinto has set up an intricate web that includes senior politicians, business magnates, journalists, police officers and senior crime bosses. At the age of 40 he has become one of the most powerful people in Israel. He has a right to fight to prove his innocence with all the means at his disposal.
However, Weinstein’s obvious duty is to state in a loud, clear voice that no man is above the law, even if he is surrounded by attorneys, publicists, retired police commanders and disciples.