Prosecution ombudsman examining closure of Mandelblit case — report

Prosecution ombudsman examining closure of Mandelblit case — report

Judge David Rozen said to be looking into whether any information was hidden from officials who decided to close probe into attorney general in Harpaz affair

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends an event at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends an event at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A judge overseeing complaints against the state prosecution is examining whether information pertaining to the closed case against Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was hidden from justice officials who decided on it, according to a TV report.

Channel 13 said that in response to a complaint claiming Mandelblit’s case had been mishandled, Justice David Rozen, who holds the position of Ombudsman of the State Representatives in the Courts, wrote that his office was “looking into the claim questioning whether all relevant material was presented to the prosecution when it decided to close the case into Dr. Mandelblit.”

In recent days, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial set to open on Sunday, supporters of the premier have stepped up their attacks against Mandelblit, who ordered the indictment of Netanyahu on corruption charges.

On Thursday Likud minister David Amsalem ripped into Mandelblit, saying there was “no dispute among the Israeli people” that Mandelblit is “allegedly a criminal.”

Mandelblit has come under fire after a journalist broke a gag order to raise questions about his conduct in the so-called Harpaz affair, a 2010 scandal in which he was briefly suspected of having helped military brass cover up a smear campaign. The case against him was dropped.

Prosecution Ombudsman, retired justice David Rozen attends a presentation of a report at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on March 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier this month, Channel 13’s Ayala Hasson said a 2010 recording exists in which Mandelblit, then the military advocate general, told Gabi Ashkenazi, then the IDF chief of staff (and Mandelblit’s boss) and now the foreign minister, that he would make sure to “close the matter” for him, adding he would ensure that the deputy state attorney “tilts the scales in our favor.”

Hasson later noted that these were not direct quotes and that she was paraphrasing. The recording in question is under a gag order and is legally inadmissible as it was made without Mandelblit and Ashkenazi’s knowledge.

Prosecution officials have said in response to Hasson’s comments that the decision not to charge Mandelblit and Ashkenazi in the affair — despite a police recommendation to do so — was made after an extensive review of many conversations between those involved.

And, they said, “the content attributed to the speakers by Ms. Hasson is similar to content of other conversations reviewed by those handling the cases” before the decision was made to close them. They said Hasson was “misleading the public” by alluding to a cover-up by the justice system.

Acting State Attorney Dan Eldad (State Prosecution website portrait)

Earlier this month State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman turned down then-justice minister Amir Ohana’s request for a wide-ranging probe of Mandelblit and the state prosecution, saying a special probe did not appear to be warranted.

Prior to his dismissal, acting state attorney Dan Eldad had requested a meeting with Englman regarding Mandleblit’s involvement in the so-called Harpaz affair, after asserting he had unearthed “worrying” information about the case’s handling by the prosecution.

He cancelled that meeting after his tenure was suspended. But Mandelblit in a statement urged him to go forward with it if he truly believed he had relevant information to share.

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