Netanyahu lawyers ask AG to reexamine graft case, citing ‘biased’ cop
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Netanyahu lawyers ask AG to reexamine graft case, citing ‘biased’ cop

Letter claims former senior investigator Roni Rittman believed the sexual assault allegations that forced his resignation were orchestrated by the PM

Outgoing head of the Lahav 433 police anti-corruption unit, Roni Rittman, arrives at the Police Investigation Department, Jerusalem, December, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Outgoing head of the Lahav 433 police anti-corruption unit, Roni Rittman, arrives at the Police Investigation Department, Jerusalem, December, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Lawyers representing the Netanyahu family on Tuesday asked the attorney general to reexamine evidence collected by the former head of the police anti-corruption unit, claiming that Maj. Gen. Roni Rittman was biased against the prime minister and his wife.

The letter to Avichai Mandelblit claimed that Rittman, who served as the head of the Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit, believed the Netanyahus were behind the sexual assault allegations that forced his resignation earlier this year, and his investigation was not objective.

“This casts a heavy shadow on the investigations conducted by Rittman into the Netanyahu family, and any evidence regarding the Netanyahu couple investigated by his unit is questionable,” the letter signed by lawyers Yossi Cohen and Yaakov Weinroth said. “Therefore, we ask that you reexamine the investigations.”

Rittman stepped down in February amid allegations that he sexually harassed two subordinates in 2011. He denied the claims, and suggested it was a conspiracy to bring him down.

The Haaretz daily reported earlier on Tuesday that Rittman asked investigators probing the sexual misconduct claims against him if the allegations were linked to his unit’s probe into the Netanyahus illegal spending. He asked the Police Internal Investigation department to check if Netanyahu-appointed State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan was involved in the case against him.

According to the report, PIID investigators turned up no evidence of interference in the case against Rittman, and confirmed the sexual misconduct allegations were made legitimately.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and his wife Sara in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Rittman was accused of two instances of sexual harassment in 2011, including kissing a female subordinate against her will. Rittman denied the allegations, and claimed someone was trying to frame him. In 2015, during the course of the investigation, he was put on mandatory leave.

No indictment was ever filed against Rittman due to “evidentiary issues.”

Following a brief suspension, Police Chief Roni Alsheich reinstated him head of Lahav 433, but in November last year, the High Court of Justice slammed his appointment to the top position in light of the sexual misconduct claims. Rittman resigned two months later.

During that time, Netanyahu launched scathing attacks against the officers investigating him, including Rittman.

The prime minister said Rittman’s claims that the sexual misconduct allegations were a conspiracy should have disqualified him from leading the investigation.

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