Former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit acknowledges in comments aired this evening that a lengthy investigation of Shas leader Aryeh Deri was carried out in poor fashion and that the defrocked cabinet member never agreed to bow out of political life as part of a plea bargain.
Deri, who is at the center of a tug-of-war between the government and judiciary, was convicted a year ago of wide-ranging tax offenses, following a probe that dated back to 2016. Despite the conviction, he was appointed as a minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet late last year, a move that the High Court struck down, kicking off a furious battle among allied lawmakers to pass legislation that will override the court and allow his return, part of a larger judicial overhaul.
In comments to Channel 12 news, Mandelblit says he regretted the way the investigation of Deri was handled.
“Justice for Deri was drawn out. I think there was a problem there with the investigation,” Mandelblit says.
“The law enforcement system did not excel in this case,” he adds.
The comments were made as part of a wide-ranging interview Mandelblit granted Channel 12, the lion’s share of which was broadcast on Thursday night. In it, he warned the government’s planned judicial reform was tantamount to “regime change” and would destroy the Israeli legal system.