Attorney General Recommends Dropping Probe of Late Avraham Ofer

Attorney General Aharon Barak recommended to the Cabinet today that the police investigation into allegations of wrong doing against the late Housing Minister Avraham Ofer be dropped. Ofer committed suicide last Monday and left a note declaring he was innocent of any misconduct.

Barak submitted two memoranda to the Cabinet, one of which contained his recommendations and the other describing the events that immediately preceded Ofer’s suicide. These included a secret meeting at the residence of Premier Yitzhak Rabin Jan. 1, attended by Justice Minister Haim Zadok, Police Minister Shlomo Hillel and Barak. He confirmed for the first time that charges involving the police inquiry into Ofer’s activities as president of the Histadrut housing company. Shikun Ovdim, were the subject of the meeting. Ofer resigned from that post when he entered the Cabinet in 1974.

Barak said the investigation should be dropped on the basis of a law which says that all proceedings should be halted against a person who is deceased. He noted that had Ofer lived he would have been presumed innocent unless proven otherwise and therefore he must be presumed innocent after his death. But according to Barak, if others besides the late Housing Minister were involved in the alleged misdeeds, the police should pursue their inquiry-into the activities of the others.

Barak’s second memo said that the police investigation of Ofer started last Nov. 11, a day after a journalist, Yigal Laviv, filed a complaint accusing Ofer of having illegally disposed of flats built with public funds and engaging in illegal land deals on the West Bank during his tenure as head of Shikun Ovdim. He said that police investigated 22 specific charges which required the checking of “hundreds” of documents. Nine days ago the police concluded there was no evidence to prove Laviv’s charges against Ofer, Barak said. But a day later, new evidence was found which led to the meeting at the Premier’s residence.

Barak reported that at a second meeting the same day. Hillel had asked him if he should inform Ofer of the nature of the investigation against him. Barak said he told the Police Minister that no exceptions should be made because Ofer was a Cabinet minister and that he should be treated like any other citizen under investigation.

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