Tel Aviv’s military court held its first hearing Sunday in the trial of Ofek Buchris, the former military brigadier general accused of rape and other sexual crimes against subordinates.
Sunday’s court session was a procedural one, in which the sides set the dates for further sessions. Buchris himself was not present at court.
The court decided that the trial would officially open on September 29.
Buchris officially resigned from the Israel Defense Forces in July in order to manage his legal defense as a civilian.
Buchris was indicted on charges of rape, sodomy, indecent acts and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
The case came to light earlier this year, and the general has maintained his innocence throughout, including in a letter announcing his resignation ahead of the “war of his life.”
“I am innocent and I will fight for my good name and for my innocence,” Buchris wrote in the letter.
“Today I complete 28 years of loyally serving my nation and homeland,” he wrote. “I believe the expected norm of an officer at my rank who has been served with a serious indictment is to relieve the system of the burden and to stand up to the charges in the only reasonable place — the courtroom. This is what I have chosen to do.”
In March, two soldiers who served in Buchris’s office when he served as head of the Golani Brigade, from 2010 to 2012, accused him of rape, sodomy and sexual assault.
Under Israeli law, sodomy constitutes either oral or anal sex when the authority figure exploits “authority in the workplace or in (national) service.”
Buchris, who previously served as the commander of the IDF’s Bashan Division, along with a slew of other high-ranking positions in the military, had been set to take over as head of the Operations Division, a position that is often a steppingstone to higher command roles.
Reports of the initial allegations in March sent shock waves through the IDF and the rest of the country, as Buchris’s previously glowing reputation was suddenly called into question.
According to reports at the time, the first soldier to make allegations told investigators that she knew of another soldier, a Golani officer, who had been sexually assaulted by Buchris as well. Several days later, the second woman came forward and accused Buchris.
The attorneys representing Buchris have said the prosecution’s case against the general is “seriously flawed.”
In the weeks after the allegations were made, Buchris took at least two lie detector tests, with attorneys challenging their results. In the first, commissioned by Buchris, he was seen as telling the truth. The second test, performed by military prosecutors, had “problematic” results for the general, investigators said.
Judah Ari Gross and Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.