Ten Commanders in the Pocket

Reading the report on the Sharon-Appel case, investigators burst into bitter laughter. Every time Mazuz chose a quotation to support his version, he ignored other sections of the report that would have contradicted his claims.

The police are set to recommend that indictments be issued against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son, Omri, and his bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, in the Annex election financing affair. Only after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decides whether to accept this recommendation would police investigators continue to look into the second part of this affair, the "Cyril Kern matter," which relates to how a loan was raised to pay back money secured illegally in the Annex case. If Mazuz decides to throw out the case against Omri Sharon and Weisglass, he will encourage every crime suspect to keep mum, and signal to anyone who considers giving testimony against a public figure and his relatives to think carefully about the wisdom of this course.

Reading the report on the Sharon-Appel case, investigators burst into bitter laughter. Every time Mazuz chose a quotation to support his version, he ignored other sections of the report that would have contradicted his claims. Gilad Sharon worked "from morning till night"; he was "up to his neck" in work; and he was "in charge of marketing/sales/public relations." But Mazuz did not substantiate such quotations with any form of tangible evidence - neither regarding hours logged at work, nor with respect to the usefulness of the work and reports produced by this master salesman, marketing expert and PR whiz. Similarly the famed Internet research done by Gilad Sharon about habits of German tourists in Spain and Greece was apparently lost somewhere at sea.

Appel's money was paid to a farm that belongs to Ariel, Omri and Gilad Sharon. The prime minister, who nominally transferred the farm to his sons and lives there at their sufferance, actually relates to the property as though he is an owner. The official version of Sharon's life, which appears on his office's Internet site (all traces of Sabra and Chatila, and the Kahan Commission's recommendation to strip Sharon of his defense portfolio have vanished from the site), relates to the place as Sharon's farm, as his own place.

The key phrase in the section of Mazuz's report that addresses Sharon's actions when he was between holding the foreign affairs and national infrastructure portfolios and becoming prime minister, is "in the opposition." In actual fact, during the year 2000, when he headed the opposition, Sharon was in contact with then prime minister Ehud Barak about his inclusion in the government with the important finance portfolio (Silvan Shalom was slated to be interior minister). These contacts validated Sharon's political clout, even though Barak backed down from his agreement with Sharon due to internal Labor party considerations.

Any lingering doubt as to Mazuz's difficulty in distinguishing between policemen and thieves, is erased by a request made by Eran Shendar, formerly head of the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of policemen, to be appointed state prosecutor. A disagreement flared between then attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein and then state prosecutor Edna Arbel after allegations made by Rubinstein and Shendar against police Major General Moshe Mizrahi were systematically refuted by Arbel and her colleagues. During this Rubinstein-Arbel battle, Shendar and Mazuz belonged to Rubinstein's camp. Police insiders suggested that at Rubinstein's behest, Shendar endangered intelligence sources. For some reason, Mazuz chose not to appoint his own team to review recommendations submitted by a lower-ranking committee of prosecutors and policemen in favor of tossing out allegations. It would appear that it's only when subordinates recommend in favor of indictment that Mazuz finds reason to appoint new committees to reach the desired result.

Shendar's attitude toward policemen was accommodating and indulgent only in certain cases. In December 2003 Shendar testified in the case of police Superintendent Aryeh Silberman, who was recruited as a mole by Ofer Nimrodi in the investigations unit headed by Mizrahi. Shendar corroborated in his testimony a stunning fact: in 1999 he heard from another mole, Chief Superintendent Zion Sasson, that Nimrodi boasted about how the head of the investigations unit at the time, Major General Yossi Sedbon, Mizrahi's commander, was "our man" at the top tier of the police force who leaked information "from the highest levels relating to the investigation of Nimrodi."

This report was supplemented by testimony by insurance agent Rani Galagao, who was sent to extract information from Sedbon: Galagao said that when he asked about the state of the Nimrodi investigation, Sedbon silenced him by saying "sit and be quiet."

Shendar minimized the import of this testimony. "Even if Ofer Nimrodi were to say that I have 10 police major generals in my pocket," said Mazuz's favorite for the state prosecutor's slot, "that doesn't mean that he had 10 major generals in his pocket. It only means it was something he said - the real test is the evidence."

Rubinstein and Shendar preferred to leave Criminal Investigations Department chief Sedbon alone and to jump all over Mizrahi, his subordinate-victim in the International Crimes Unit and his heir as CID chief. Mizrahi will remain his office, apparently with Miri Golan as assistant CID chief at the rank of commander; but Mazuz and Shendar, senior case-closers, will be able to dull the sting of investigations. Sometimes, an attorney general and a state prosecutor in hand are better than 10 commanders in the pocket.