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IDF Officer Charged with Fraud Gets No Sympathy from Comrades

An Israel Defense Force reserve officer has appealed to the High Court of Justice to cancel a plea bargain agreement made by an air force brigadier general accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars slated for defense purchases.

Yona Yahav, a Haifa city councilman who is a reserve lieutenant colonel in the military police, filed the appeal apparently on behalf of IDF officers who believe Rami Dotan should be tried for treason.

Brig. Gen. Amnon Strashnov, the IDF judge advocate general, announced the plea bargain on Dec. 20, saying it was the only way to get to the bottom of a very serious investigation.

But Yahav asked the High Court to void the deal on grounds that it “contradicts all logic and reasonable precepts of law.”

Yahav argued that it “violates the attorney general’s directive against concluding such an arrangement with a figure considered central to a criminal conspiracy.”

Dotan was remanded in custody for another 30 days by a military appeals court Monday. He has been under military police guard for the past six weeks at Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment for high blood pressure.

Dotan’s alleged criminal conduct dates from 1984 and 1985, when he was the air force’s senior procurement officer attached to the Defense Ministry’s purchasing mission in New York.

His alleged accomplices include Harold Katz, a New York lawyer who holds dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship.

Katz, who has reportedly agreed to turn state’s evidence in exchange for partial immunity, is suspected of being a financial courier for Dotan and for Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel.

‘RAMI BETRAYED US ALL’

Yahav maintained that the plea bargains with Dotan and Katz “border on being unacceptable in the extreme because the two should have been charged with offenses that senior IDF officers have termed treason.”

Strashnov said last week that Dotan has promised to return $10 million to $12 million he allegedly bilked from the Defense Ministry and to provide the names of his confederates.

The only condition he demanded was that the IDF refrain from prosecuting his wife, who allegedly participated in his swindles.

Strashnov said that even with the plea bargain, Dotan would face a 10 to 13-year prison term. He is charged with bribery, breach of trust, fraud and illegal acceptance of funds while conspiring to commit a crime.

Dotan was allegedly on the payroll of American military contractors while he was a procurement officer for Israel and received kick-backs from other firms.

He allegedly maintained illegal bank accounts abroad and set up dummy companies in the United States and Canada to conceal his thefts.

The IDF chief of staff, Gen. Dan Shomron, said last week that anyone employed in the defense establishment who harms Israel’s security is surely a traitor.

Said Gen. Avihu Bin-Nun, the air force commander, “Rami betrayed us all.”

There is no reference to treason in the charge sheet, nor is there any mention of attempts by Dotan to cause bodily harm to Ofer Pa’il, an Israeli engineer who served under him in New York and later alerted the Defense Ministry to his alleged thefts.

The local news media reported last week that Dotan put out a “contract” on Pa’il to prevent him from giving evidence.

Asked about that, Strashnov said it was “not exactly a case of attempted murder” but declined to elaborate.

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