NGO petitions Supreme Court against police chief appointment
Police Commissioner candidate Yaakov Ganot's controversial past proving sticky as Internal Security Minister Dichter's hopes for speedy appointment process sink after NGO petitions Supreme Court against appointment. Meanwhile committee for appointment of senior public figures puts Ganot approval process on hold until petition is ruled on
On Monday the first of what NGOs promise will be many petitions contesting the appointment of Israeli Prison Service Chief Lt. Gen. Yaakov Ganot to replace resigning Police Comissioner Moshe Karadi was filed with the Supreme Court.
The petition asked that Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter be required to defend his choice of Ganot and that an interim order be issued until the matter is ruled on.
In 1994 Ganot, who was serving as police commander of the country's northern district, was charged with allegations of corruption, fraud, and breach of trust. Despite harsh criticism of the final ruling by the justices presiding over the case, he was acquitted by both the District Court and the Supreme Court due to lack of evidence.
"Ganot's appointment is not only unfitting but also unthinkable," said the petition filed by 'Ometz' (courage), a non-profit organization advocating a cleaner civil administration. "The position of Police Commissioner must not be filled by a man who was cleared due to 'reasonable doubt'," it continued.
Meanwhile Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has already stated that there is no legal base for denying Ganot the appointment. He did however warn that the process may be more complicated due to Ganot's past. Aides to Dichter told Ynet on Sunday night that Mazuz was aware of the plans to appoint Ganot.
'Court has ruled against appointment of sullied men in the past'
"My committee should not convene before the Supreme Court rules on Yaakov Ganot's appointment," said Yacov Tirkel on Monday. Tirkel heads the national committee for authorizing senior appointments to public service and his announcement proves the first real problem for Dichter, should his committee indeed choose to wait it will seriously delay hopes for a speedy replacement of Karadi.
"We should not discuss the matter before the Supreme Court has had its say," continued Tirkel, himself a former Supreme Court Justice.
Former Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Zamir, who presided over Ganot's case in 94', told Ynet on Monday afternoon: "Despite his (Ganot's) acquittal, the court also said that it is a borderline case and that he has serially displayed inappropriate behavior in several incidents. This is not a manner befitting a police officer; it damages the image of the police. And to appoint someone like him as commissioner, after Karadi resigned over much less… We need to rehabilitate the police, its culture and integrity. There is a concern that crime has infiltrated the police. So to take a man with such a hunchback from the courts is unfitting."
I want to hope that Minister Dichter will abandon this appointment. I don't think it needs to be brought to the Supreme Court. Not everything needs to be examined legally. You need an unsullied man, spotless, to head the police, and I do not believe this to be the case here. It's still not too late for the minister to change his mind… the Supreme Court has ruled against appointments that were far less important because of an unclean record in the past, you can never know for sure what it will rule."
In an effort to speed up the process the Supreme Court has ordered the state to reply to the petition filed by Ometz by Thursday afternoon.
Zeiler report claims more high-ranking officers
Meanwhile the Zeiler Commission report continues to impact the system. On Monday Mazuz met with Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to discuss launching a criminal investigation against Superintendent Rubi Gilboa and Commander Yoram Levi after the Zeiler report recommended they stand trial for their role in the 'Battery Affair'.
The affair began with the theft of some $2.5 million worth of batteries from IDF warehouses and involves several conflicting versions of the events that followed. It is believed that Gilboa and Levi handed over the insurance money meant to be given as a pseudo-ransom to the person who returned the stolen equipment to the Perinan crime family instead.
Justice Minister Friedmann emphasized his objection to paying a ransom for stolen goods.
Gilboa and Levi say that they were in a hurry to return the equipment as fast as possible due to a fear of possible Iraqi missile attacks, as this happened near the height of the US-led invasion of Iraq. However evidence indicates that the alert level had already been lowered and that the batteries were not determined to be crucial equipment.
Resigning Police Commissioner Karadi was head of the district in question at the time, but took no interest in how the stolen goods were returned.