Southern Command Chief Major General Tal Russo
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Senior officers rebuked in abuse of resources case

Southern Command Chief Tal Russo, Brig.-Gen. Harel Knafo criticized over support of fellow officer involved in misappropriation of IDF resources

The Military Court on Tuesday criticized Southern Command Chief Major General Tal Russo and Brigadier General Harel Knafo after they came out in the defense of a senior officer who misappropriated his unit's budget to purchase a bicycle for his personal use.


The officer, who serves in the Ordinance Corps, admitted that he acted wrongly and was penalized, but the senior commanders reportedly failed to understand "what all the fuss was about."


The affair, which dated back to late 2010, involved three Ordinance Corps colonels who were charged with abuse of resources, in this case, the bicycles.


Ynet has learned that the sides recently agreed to a plea bargain by which the officer would retire from the IDF in two years.


In addition, the officer would be convicted of conduct unbecoming of an officer, an offense which does not carry a criminal record. He will also be fines for a sum of NIS 1,000 (approx. $295).


Just before the Military Court judges ruled whether the plea bargain would be accepted, the officer's comrades – commanders and subordinates – came forward to serve as character witnesses.


These included Brigadier General Harel Knafo who said he saw no harm in the officer's actions.


The Southern Command chief also supported the officer saying "He is one of the best officers I have ever had, which is why I can't understand why this is necessary. Even after I already knew about the investigation I still chose him."


Russo told the judges that he advised the officer to refuse the plea bargain and that in his opinion the officer should remain in the army.


It appears that the testimony of the Southern Command senior officers embarrassed the judges who went on to make statements that included implied criticism towards the senior commanders.


"We were sorry to hear that not all the witnesses understood what was wrong with the officer's actions when the officer himself testified that he acted wrongly," the judges said. The judges then accepted the plea bargain.



פרסום ראשון: 05.03.11, 13:12
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