Navy Officer Acquitted of Charges of Attempted Rape

A special military tribunal today acquitted Navy Commander Michael Barkai of charges of attempted rape on grounds of insufficient evidence. The tribunal, consisting of Gen. (res.) Chaim Herzog and two district court (civilian) judges given the temporary rank of general, indicated that it was not impressed by Barkai’s denial but had find in his favor according to law because of the lack of evidence to corroborate the plaintiff’s charges.

The court also expressed annoyance that it was forced to conduct the trial in camera. In rendering the verdict, the judges said that decision should have been left to the court rather than to the military authorities.

Barkai, the highest ranking officer in the Israeli Navy, was suspended pending, trial. He was charged with using force, threats and behavior unbecoming an officer in the attempted rape of a young woman rating. The court said it had doubts about Barkai’s defense and alibis but it also was not fully convinced by the plaintiff’s story which seemed to be a mixture of truth and imagination. The verdict will be reviewed by the Chief of Staff.

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