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Move to Fight Crime

The Cabinet agreed yesterday to appoint an examing committee to devise means to fight growing crime in Israel. Interior Minister Yosef Burg will name its members after the holidays. The panel is expected to be headed by a justice of the Supreme Court or a former justice but its members will not be jurists.

The decision was taken in the wake of a report by a special police committee headed by Michael Buchner which found that serious crime was on the rise at a cost to the State of millions of Pounds a year. It was learned that Burg wanted to establish a full-dress judicial crime committee with powers of subpoena but was overruled by his Cabinet colleagues after Attorney General Aharon Barak explained why such a body might be counter-productive.

Under law, a judicial investigating committee would have to hold public sessions. Any subpoenaed witness could appear with a lawyer, cross examine other witnesses and review all of the material assembled by the committee. That process would be time consuming and could complicate the work of the panel as was the case in the probe of the Abu Rodeis oil fields scandal in 1973.

An examining committee would not have the powers of subpoena and would not be obliged to conduct open hearings or follow courtroom procedures. According to Barak, such a body would be much more functional and effective.

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