Prosecutor Slammed for Not Giving Defense Investigative Material

The Petah Tikva District Court rebuked the central district prosecutor's office on Sunday for not giving the defense all relevant investigative materials in the trial of a man accused of stealing military weapons and selling them to criminals.

For the second time, Judge Liora Brody postponed testimony in the case of Sharon Gutin of Rishon Letzion, arrested in late January, because the prosecution failed to give Gutin's lawyers materials they said were essential for his defense.

During Sunday's hearing it was revealed that the company that prints the investigative materials had lost the discs containing the material on the case. It was eventually found, but the prosecutor told the court that failures to convey the material to the defense were not significant.

Senior figures in the Public Defenders Office said last week in Haaretz that the prosecution had learned nothing from the Ramon affair, referring to the conviction of former justice minister Haim Ramon for kissing a female soldier against her will. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss criticized the police in that case for not ensuring that the wiretaps were transcribed and conveyed to the State Prosecutor's Office, and the prosecution for not studying all the material before submitting an indictment.

Last week, the Public Defender's Office asked that Gutin's indictment be dismissed due to the circumstances, but the court ordered the parties to meet and find out what was missing.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
Olivier Fitoussi

"I really don't understand why it's impossible to admit that there was some mistake," Brody said.

Brody hinted to the prosecution that it should meet the defense halfway to avoid harsh criticism in her ruling.

The public defender, Tirtsa Kisch, told the court on Sunday that the Tel Aviv District Court had acquitted a person under the same circumstances recently. "The attempt by the prosecution to put itself in the shoes of the defense and decide what is relevant and what is not, is wrong," Kisch said, adding that the defense could not proceed without all the material.

A senior public defender said in response to claims last week that the mistakes were innocent that it was not the first time he heard the excuse. "Such a cluster of mistakes, which repeats itself, raises a serious concern that lessons that should have been learned were not learned," he said.