Supplementing the Silence

When the investigation of Prime Minster Sharon and his sons began, the son suddenly moved from his separate quarters into his father's house. A protected tenant in a city of refuge, like in Biblical times, or in the new era, the wanted militants hiding in the the Muqata.

American movies have a predictable plot line: The district attorney and the detective investigate the mayor's involvement in corruption and he tries to prove they are no less sinful than he is. In that eternal triangle, the particularly interesting relationship is between the old cop, who is about to retire, and the young, ambitious DA, a political animal who wants to move up to the senate or governor's mansion.

In the Israeli version, the promotion is to the Supreme Court, but the appointment is influenced by the politicians - including the suspect and his colleagues. Until it's decided whether the prosecutor's dream is fulfilled, he not only participates in discussions chaired by the suspect and conducts the investigation with amazing clumsiness, he even picks on the cop, paralyzing him and his subordinates. The division of labor between the suspect and his family and the prosecutor, to foil the investigation, is simple: they are silent, he paralyzes.

In Israel, the police are stopped at the gates of Sycamore Ranch, and not because Ariel Sharon has VIP protection. The Shin Bet denies it is preventing the search at the Sharon estate. It only looks like the farm in the Negev is cousin to the famous Texan estate, South Fork, on the outskirts of TV's Dallas. If Texan sheriffs wanted to search for something in Bobby Ewing's house, he wouldn't have been protected by the proximity of his brother J.R.'s house on the same estate.

That's not the case with Gilad and Ariel Sharon. When the investigation began, the son suddenly moved from his separate quarters into his father's house. A protected tenant in a city of refuge, like in Biblical times, or in the new era, the wanted militants hiding in the the Muqata.

Elyakim Rubinstein could demand that Sharon, the immune, give up the person he is protecting. The problem is not some Greek island, but the public's trust. Instead of canceling his frequent overseas visits to accelerate the Sharon inquiry, the attorney general preferred to obstruct the work of the Criminal Investigations Department. He's kept the head of CID, Commander Moshe Mizrahi, on coals through a summer and fall and winter and spring and another summer, with the excuse being a complaint by an escaped criminal, a former police investigator, who says his former commander, Mizrahi, ordered - without permission - violations of the privacy of suspects by over-transcribing some wiretaps. The hunt for Mizrahi, which has already involved three sorties by Police Investigation Unit officers to Canada, and the escaped man being offered the status of state's witness, is so important to Rubinstein that he is ready to fight the entire top echelon of the state attorney's office, from Edna Arbel through her deputy Nava Ben-Or, and down.

The prosecution knows the truth, because most of its senior officials in fact helped the police officer who struggled with the mountain of transcripts from the wiretaps: Rubinstein signed the requests to the judges for the wiretaps. The Supreme Court, its position clear a month ago in a clear-cut decision authored by Justice Ayala Procaccia, with the agreement of Tova Strassberg-Cohen and Court President Aharon Barak.

Rejecting Jackob Nimrodi's petition demanding that Mizrahi be investigated for criminal behavior connected to the trials of Ofer Nimrodi, and that Mizrahi be suspended, the justices wrote "the principle test for a criminal or disciplinary inquiry against an investigator is to be found in the question whether there was malicious use of the authority and power vested in the investigator's position, in the behavior that was taken." Their conclusion: At the personal level, Mizrahi acted in good faith and did not abuse his power of office.

Institutionally, a more detailed protocol should be drafted for relations between police investigators with the prosecution and defense.

With the appropriate changes, that is also a draft for Rubinstein's decision on the matter of Mizrahi and the transcripts, but until the attorney general stops prevaricating, the system beneath him, which includes CID and its departments, is spending more time defending itself than investigating. The paralysis of the prosecutor who wants to be on the Supreme Court complements and supplements the silence of the suspected politician.