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New Development in Abu-hatzeira Case; Police Spokesman Leaked False Information to the Press

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The Inspector General of Police, Herzl Shafir, admitted to the Knesset Interior Committee today that a police spokesman had deliberately Jeaked false information to the press during the investigation of bribe taking charges against Religious Affairs Minister Aharon Abu-Hatzeira.

Shafir said that the spokesman, Arye Arad, planted a story in the press that the State had six witnesses against Abu-Hatzeira when, at the time it had in fact only one, former B’nei Brak Mayor Yisrael Gottlieb. He said the spokesman passed on that information after discussing it with other police officers but without their consent. Arad has been punished and will leave the force Jan. I, Shafir said.

Interior Minister Yosef Burg, whose Ministry controls the police, said Shafir’s disclosure was “very grave.” He said he had no idea such things went on. Abu-Hatzeira was indicted last month on three counts of bribe-taking based on police evidence. But the Knesset House Committee has yet to decide whether to strip him of his immunity as on MK so that he may stand trial.

The decision was delayed after Attorney General Yitzhok Zamir told the Committee Dec. 22 that he had learned that the police “used trickery” to convince Gottlieb to testify against the minister.

The Interior Committee’s discussion today was devoted to the poor relations between the police and the Interior Ministry’s police division Shafir complained that an angry exchange he bed with the division’s head was leaked word-for-word to the press. He said he was sure the police were not responsible for the leak.

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