Zamir: No Reason to Separate Functions of Attorney General

The sentences handed down yesterday to two former cabinet ministers demonstrate there is no reason to divide the function of attorney general, retired Supreme Court justice Yitzhak Zamir told Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

The remarks by Zamir, who is also a former attorney general, comes in the context of Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's intention to split the post of attorney general into two separate jobs: one as adviser to the government and one as head of the general prosecution. According to Zamir, the cases show the baselessness of the argument that because the attorney general sits at the cabinet table, friendly relations develop between ministers that could impair the attorney general's judgment if it becomes necessary to investigate or indict them.

Zamir added that the penalties meted out to former ministers Shlomo Benizri and Abraham Hirchson were not as harsh as those in the past for offenses of this type.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, of the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law and vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, does not believe Wednesday's rulings have anything to do with splitting the post of attorney general. Kremnitzer notes that among the reasons presented for dividing the post are the heavy burden and many powers the attorney general has. He also said the evidence in both the Hirchson and Benizri cases was very strong.

Meanwhile, Benizri yesterday consulted with his attorney, Benny Nahari, about appealing his sentence. Sources close to Benizri said in the coming days he would weigh the possibility of seeking an additional hearing with an expanded High Court panel. The chance such a request will be granted are considered low.

A source close to Benizri said he was considering requesting a new trial, in light of the fact that the daughter of the state's witness, Moshe Sela, told police and the prosecution that her father had been unduly pressured to testify against Benizri.