Lawyers representing Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto on bribery charges offered information against errant police officers, in exchange for canceling the charges against the kabbalist, Reshet Bet reports. However, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Thursday rejected the notion and called for Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto to be tried as the police recommended.
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Pinto faces charges for allegedly bribing a top police official and should be tried for that, irrespective of an investigation into Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, who allegedly took the bribes, Aharonovitch said.
The minister also said it was unacceptable for Pinto's lawyers to announce that additional evidence exists only after the police made their recommendation, let alone make its release conditional on closing the cases against the rabbi.
"That is categorically inappropriate," Aharonovitch said in an interview with Israel Radio. "One should not be tied to the other – things must be investigated and prosecuted," he said.
"The recommendation to try [Pinto] came first. The fact that additional material has appeared and everything is put on hold is fine, but right now I think it is wrong to condition a deal on closing any case [against him]."
Aharonovitch, meanwhile, defended Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, the high-level police official suspected of accepting bribes from the rabbi. "He is an experienced officer, and we have not heard his version yet so he can’t be discredited," said Aharonovitch, adding that he supported Arviv's decision to take a leave of absence from his post.
The Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct is investigating Arviv, who heads of one of the police’s most prestigious units, on suspicion of taking bribes from Pinto and from businessmen who are disciples of the rabbi.
The investigative material in the case has been given to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, as well as to Pinto’s lawyers.
Arviv leads Lahav 433, a unit popularly known as the Israeli FBI, which includes the fraud squad, the serious and international crimes unit and the financial investigations unit.
The case was originally under gag order, but a judge lifted the gag order late Wednesday evening following a request from Haaretz and other Israeli news outlets.