Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday expressed dismay at having to order the recent investigation of a former district attorney as part of a major corruption scandal.
Weinstein told a conference of the Israel Bar Association in Eilat that giving the green light for interrogating former Tel Aviv district attorney Ruth David came as a shock to him.
David was implicated in a scandal involving payoffs by criminals to obtain information about police investigations against them. She was arrested earlier this month over allegations that she obstructed the investigation of prominent lawyer Ronel Fisher, who’s suspected of bribery.
“This affair was headlined as ‘an earthquake’ ‘a shock,’ ‘a jolt’ and other phrases that give a feeling of outrage and pain,” Weinstein said. “Even I, who have seen nearly everything, was hit with a profound sense of shock and disbelief.”
“I never thought that during my term in office I would need to put on trial a person who was the district attorney in the State Attorney’s Office,” he said.
Weinstein said David should face trial because “the evidence gathered supports the reasonable chance of a conviction, and so charges should be brought against her.”
On a more positive note, he said the public alarm over the case was an indication of overall trust by citizens in a legal system that has not flinched at investigating its own ranks.
“These feelings that have gripped me and the wider public serve to illustrate the great confidence that I and the entire public have in the virtue, honesty and decency of the public prosecutors. The events prove that the law also applies to those who are from our own flesh and blood. No one is immune.”
Despite the furor surrounding the case, Weinstein rejected calls to set up an independent body to oversee the State Attorney’s Office.
“A monitoring body is not set up for those reasons, its function is not to perform criminal investigations,” he said. “The function of the monitoring body is to protect our most important possession — public trust.”
The Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department suspects that David, now a senior partner in Fisher’s private law firm, attempted to tamper with testimonies and leak sensitive information connected to the investigation against him.
David caused sensation when she fainted on the steps of the Jerusalem District Court ahead of a hearing for the extension of her remand earlier this month. She was was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in light condition and her remand was subsequently extended.
At the time a police official said the fainting episode was “an attempt to foil the current extension of her arrest” and called for the hearing to be conducted in her absence. The officer said that there was evidence of David counseling previous clients to feign fainting. David’s legal counsel denied the charge of her staging the episode, saying David’s collapse was because of her “irregular medical condition.”
Fisher was arrested in July for allegedly selling information to criminal suspects regarding their cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and transferring money to police officers in exchange for the termination of his defendants’ investigations.
His investigation has led to a flood of arrests, among them the former publisher of Hebrew-language daily Maariv, Ofer Nimrodi.
David is also suspected of committing violations during her service in the Justice Ministry. During her eight years as district attorney, she was involved in some of the past decade’s highest-profile criminal cases, including the trial of former finance minister Avraham Hirschson, who was eventually convicted of stealing close to NIS 2 million.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.