Attorney Raz Nezri, senior aide to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, said Monday that there were no grounds to pursue a criminal case against Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, citing lack of evidence.
Nezri's statement came in response to a demand made by the Ometz Association, which champions proper public administration.
Ometz called on Mazuz to file charges against Metzger for allegedly receiving illicit benefits in return for marrying couples deem disqualified to marry under Jewish Law; "making inappropriate sexual advances" at a photographer and having various private groups fund trips aboard for him and his family.
On the matter of marrying disqualified couples – an offense construed by the statute as breach of trust – Nezri claimed that the allegations fall under the five-year statute of limitations. The alleged breach of trust took place in 2002, and therefore can no longer be prosecuted.
'Decision not indicative of validation'
As for the alleged sexual advances made at a French photographer, Nezri said the State cannot prove the case falls under the guidelines of sexual harassment, mainly because the photographer in question never filed a complaint against the rabbi.
As for the allegations that some of Metzger's trips abroad were funded by private groups – suggesting conflict of interests – Nezri said that the Attorney General's Office filed an official request with the Chief Rabbinate for Metzger's travel logs and the latter provided a details list of all pre-approved trips, which indicated no such conflict of interests.
Mazuz did, however, order his office to put together a team, headed by the Prime Minister's Office legal counsel and including representatives from the Justice Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate, to probe the matter further and stipulate new and clear guidelines as to the funding of the chief rabbi's trips by private groups.
Nezri chose to end his letter to Ometz by saying that "the decision not to go ahead with a criminal case must not be misunderstood as a validation of any of the alleged acts."