Military asks police to review its probe into mysterious death of intel officer

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

The military opens for review by police its investigation into the death under unclear circumstances of a Military Intelligence officer.

The officer, who was being held in jail under accusations of grave security offenses, and whose name is barred from publication, was found dead in his cell on May 16. There was no clear sign of death, and an autopsy in Israel, as well as a blood test at a specialized forensic laboratory in the United States, were inconclusive.

Yet the military’s own investigations “found no evidence that the departed’s death was caused by a criminal act,” the Israel Defense Forces says in a statement.

Despite determining that the probes were “comprehensive and conducted professionally,” IDF Military Advocate General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi decided that given the highly irregular nature of the incident — both the inexplicable death and the severe nature of the crimes attributed to him — the case warranted further investigation, the IDF says.

“Therefore she decided that all of the investigation materials will be handed over in their entirety for consideration by a special advisory team from the Israel police,” the military says.

The officer, who served in a Military Intelligence technology unit, had not yet been indicted when he died, but would have been charged with nearly two dozen separate offenses and faced at least a 10-year prison sentence.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi hails the decision to open the investigation to the police, saying “we must do everything to explore every possible direction in the investigation and to bring this to a close as quickly as possible.”

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