Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I’m no lawyer but
I am horrified by Attorney General Meni Mazuz’s decision to close the corruption case against Arik and Gilad Sharon for lack of sufficient evidence.

But it’s not the actual decision itself I’m horrified by.

It seems quite logical to me that if there is no sufficient evidence (and the highly self-publicized video/audio-toting turncoat star witness for the prosecution is absurdly unreliable), this is the right decision. Why is it better to haul all concerned through the courts for years, at considerable cost to the taxpayer (me), ruining political careers, blackening names, maybe even having an adverse affect on such minor subjects as war and peace, only for the accused to inevitably be acquitted at the end?

No, I am horrified at what the decision seems to reveal about the state prosecution. About the press too, but that’s nothing new.

I haven’t read the whole decision, only about ten or eleven pages of the seventy six, but these few pages spell out a story so completely different to what we have been fed by the press, according to information supplied by the prosecution, that I am horrified at the apparently blatant impartiality of both these parties.

One of the targets of the corruption investigation in question was Arik Sharon’s son, Gilad. Gilad Sharon was accused by the prosecution and by the press of receiving very high payment for counseling work he didn’t do, on a Greek island construction project that eventually didn’t materialize.

The recording of a phone conversation was made public in which he is heard clearly saying that all he’s doing (in return for the money) is taking some things from the Internet. The conversation makes it sound like he did absolutely nothing to earn the large amounts of money he received, paid straight into the family estate. It sounds very much like he was a vessel for bribing his father, Arik Sharon.

Mazuz’s decision reveals that this conversation was taken completely out of context. There are apparently police recordings of dozens of telephone conversations showing that Gilad Sharon worked hard and long on the marketing side of the Greek Island project. There is a police recording of a conversation in which Gilad’s former boss in the project, alleged briber, David Appel, talks about how satisfied he is with Gilad's work. There are testimonies given by people in the advertising company they were working with, among others, telling of Gilad’s remarkable marketing skills and about the valuable work they did together.

The conversation in question is from a period when it was becoming clear that the project was losing momentum. There was no need for marketing at that point. The reason Gilad was being paid at that particular point, when he obviously wasn’t doing very much, was because he hadn’t been paid before, when he was doing a lot, and because it had become apparent that he wasn’t going to get any of the bonuses he had been expecting, on account of the problems the project had run into.

Out of dozens of conversations, why was this the only one leaked with regard to this issue?

There’s more. It’s just that this particular discrepancy shocked me. I had no intention of writing about this matter before I read this and understood what Mazuz was inferring the prosecution had done.

I’m not completely naive. I realize that Sharon and his sons are not squeaky clean. Even Mazuz doesn’t say he’s closing the case for lack of blame, only for lack of evidence. The Sharon’s are, most likely, at least as corrupt as the next powerful politician (on both sides of the political fence here) if not more so, far more so. But to prove corruption, it stands to reason that you need evidence, and not just circumstantial evidence. Attorney General Mazuz says there clearly isn’t enough of that in this case in order to prosecute. The police didn’t think so either. That doesn’t seem to have bothered the prosecution.

From where I’m sitting this looks like a disgusting attempt by public servants to intervene in national politics, supported by a left leaning press eager to discredit the prime minister they detest. Mazuz has created a media storm by openly questioning the motives of the prosecutors and specifically, of high handed State Prosecutor Edna Arbel, who has recently been appointed judge in the Supreme Court (oops).

New Attorney General Mazuz wrote a seventy-six page decision (Hebrew rtf link) and signed it simply Meni Mazuz, not Menahem (his full name), not Attorney General, just plain Meni Mazuz (his interesting life story is worth reading). In his decision he kicked ass. He stood up to the state prosecution and told them there’s a new boss in town and a new way of doing things. I like this guy. What like? I love this guy.