Top Cop Suspected of 'Hiding' Evidence in Murder Case

Police Commissioner David Cohen believed to have slipped deleted conversation transcripts into his pocket.

Police Commissioner David Cohen, when he was commander of the Tel Aviv Central Unit, ordered that transcripts of telephone conversations collected as evidence in two murder cases be cut, according to a police report from 1995. The report has reached the State Comptroller's Office, which investigated it.

The deleted sections included telephone conversations between a suspect in the planning of a murder and the commander of the Tel Aviv District at the time, Maj. Gen. Gabi Last. According to the report, Cohen put the deleted transcript sections into his pocket.

The report, designated "top secret," was penned in March 1995 by the head of the intelligence department of the Tel Aviv Central Unit at the time, Chief Superintendent Dan Sanovsky, in a memo on the investigation into the planned murder of Anton Melavsky and Michael Charney. Such memos are routinely placed in case files sent to the State Prosecutor's Office.

Sanovsky wrote that as part of the Tel Aviv Central Unit's probe of the suspects in the planned hit, private detectives Amir Ben-Asher and Ya'akov Beck, who were later convicted, Last instructed him to obtain the printouts of phone calls the two had made, and to pinpoint phone numbers of individuals known to the police and phone calls abroad.

Sanovsky detected two outgoing calls from Beck's phone to Last's home number. He reported this to the Central Unit intelligence heads Shimon Fari and Miri Mizrachi, and to Cohen who was commander of the Central Unit at that time.

Sanovsky wrote that Cohen told him he knew that Last and Beck talked on the phone occasionally, and that they knew each other through Beck's brother-in-law, the mayor or Ramat Gan and formerly chief of operations in the police, Tzvi Bar. "Sanovsky also wrote that Cohen asked him to cut the phone company reports and hold on to the sections, which he did. "I brought all the files to Superintendent Moti Avidan. He asked me why the printouts were in pieces and I told him that is how they came from Bezek. The next day, March 5, 1995, at the request of the Central Unit commander [Cohen], I gave the entries that I had removed from the printout to him and he put them in his pocket. Since that time I have no idea what was done with them."

During the trial of Ben-Asher in the Tel Aviv District Court later in 1995, Sanovsky testified to the incident, but the court did not relate to it in its verdict.

Attorney Yuval Levy, who represented Ben-Asher in his appeal said he and his associate, attorney Avraham Waldstein, who represented Ben-Asher at his trial, had tried to draw the attention of the court to the matter, but to no avail.

Beck, who called Last, was indicted in November 1995 and convicted of soliciting a murder and conspiracy to commit murder and arms-trafficking. Following a plea bargain, he was sentenced to nine years in jail. Ben-Asher, who chose to go to trial, was sentenced to 12 years for the same and additional charges.

"These are old and recycled claims, the timing of whose release shows extraneous considerations, and they are therefore unworthy of comment," a statement from the police said.

Last said: "To the best of my knowledge and recollection, there was a Police Investigations Department probe into the matter and nothing untoward was discovered. I was not involved and was not questioned."

Last said Beck was a friend for many years, adding that he gave the order to tap Beck's phone although he knew his number might appear.

The Police Investigations Department said they had no documentation on a probe in the matter.

The State Comptroller's Office declined to comment on the matter, and said it "objected to inaccurate recent reports that also mention the police commissioner." The State Comptroller's Office would only say it was investigating "appointments and promotions of officers" in the police and the army.