State Comptroller Set to Slam Israeli Prosecutors, Police for Closing Cases Too Early

Comptroller's office has surveyed a sample of files that have been closed because the cases were allegedly not in public's interest.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is set to harshly criticize the state prosecution and the police's investigation and prosecution units for closing cases prematurely, legal sources say. In a report due for release shortly, Lindenstrauss is particularly expected to denounce the closing of files on the grounds that pursuing the cases was not in the public's interest.

Legal sources with access to the report said this week that law enforcement officials will have to examine the closing of thousands of criminal files each year. The report was put together as part of Lindenstrauss' new policy to strengthen oversight of law enforcement agencies.

Micha Lindenstrauss
Michal Fattal

Annually, the police prosecution sends the State Prosecutor's Office about 18,000 criminal-investigation files with a recommendation that the cases be closed. The State Prosecutor's Office must judge whether such recommendations should be followed.

The comptroller's office has surveyed a representative sample of files that have been closed because the cases were allegedly not in the public's interest, as opposed to a lack of evidence or guilt.

The survey examines whether closing the cases was justified; for example, in instances when the attorney general directed prosecutors not to pursue certain kinds of cases.

The state comptroller also looked into whether the attorney general and state prosecution have a system in place to oversee how files are closed and whether criminal files have been closed by the appropriate parties.

In response to the expected allegations, a police spokesman said: "The report in question is in the preparation stage. It has not been completed, has not been released or permitted to be released. So it's impossible to discuss its findings or decide if it's a harsh report."

In January, the state comptroller released a harsh report on the prosecutor office's delays in dealing with criminal files transferred from the police and pending a decision on whether indictments should be filed.

The files included cases involving murder, sexual offenses and domestic violence.

According to the report, 79 percent of the files were in the prosecutor's office for more than two years, and between 2004 and 2008, the number of files awaiting disposition increased by 10 percent.

When police investigation files are sent to the prosecutor's office, the district prosecutor has the authority to decide whether to file an indictment or close the case.

A sampling of cases in the investigation that culminated in January's report showed cases from 2006 that had not been dealt with and other files that had not been referred to the prosecutor's office or were otherwise delayed.

Lindenstrauss took a grave view of those delays; he said they did an injustice both to the suspects and the victims.