Police to Question Private Eyes Again, but Case May Falter

Police believe private eyes hired to undermine witnesses’ credibility; proving Katsav and family intentionally instructed private eyes act unlawfully may be impossible.

The owner of an investigation agency and the private investigator who were hired by former President Moshe Katsav and arrested for allegedly harassing witnesses in the case will be questioned by the police's national fraud squad again today.

Detectives hope to uncover more information and may even arrange a meeting between the private eyes and members of the Katsav family who allegedly contracted for them to collect information on the witness known as A. from the Tourism Ministry, as well as her husband, a friend who testified for the defense and a reception clerk at the Jerusalem hotel where once of the rapes occurred.

Israel police.
Moti Kimche

However, sources in law enforcement said it was entirely possible that few, if any, of the suspects will be charged, in light of the fact that some of their activities were in a legal gray area and that it may be impossible to prove that Katsav and his family intentionally instructed the private eyes to act unlawfully.

Katsav, his brothers Yoram and Lior and his son Noam were questioned by police for several hours this week in connection with the new suspicions.

Police believe the private eyes were hired in an attempt to gather information that could undermine the credibility of the witnesses, for Katsav's upcoming appeal.

Katsav was convicted of raping A. on two occasions, among other sexual offenses against his employees when he was president. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. His appeal will be heard next month in the Supreme Court.

The private eye hired by the investigation agency, who is known only as D., said his employer received real-time reports of all his activities and that they kept in touch via email at all times.

D. told Haaretz yesterday that he never met Katsav and did nothing illegal in talking to a friend of A.'s.

"I didn't sign with Katsav, I didn't see him. I know him like you do, from television. I wasn't hired by the Katsavs. My job was to get people to talk in order to gather information, just as the banks and insurance companies do thousands of times every day with people who owe money," said D.

D., 49, is a seasoned private eye, a colorful and clever character with a lot of self-confidence who claims to be Israel's No. 1 expert at getting people to talk. He is on his second marriage and has four children. He is a decidedly social, media-savvy character, a raconteur who delivers his messages through the stories he tells about himself.

He was arrested at his home and taken for questioning at 6 A.M. last Wednesday. Although D. was put in a cell by himself, he soon made friends with his fellow detainees, who treated him to coffee and candy bars from the jail canteen.

D. became a private investigator after retiring from the Israel Police about 15 years ago. He said his agency received the Katsav case about three months ago, after the former president's rape conviction.

"This case had one purpose, to hear the truth and to reflect reality. I don't know how to reflect reality, that's why I met with an associate of A., Yaron Armoza, for 20 minutes. He repeated what he had said and I realized that's all there was. We never met with A. because that would clearly be illegal. You don't have to be a law-school graduate to know that. Her identity is confidential and stayed that way," D. said.

"It was legal to approach Armoza, and it came after his version was heard on every media outlet in the Middle East. As soon as he gave interviews he was no longer a private person. A person's privacy is part of their strategy. You can't have it both ways. Everyone has a right to privacy, but the moment they don't protect it then neither will others," D. said.