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Tel Aviv courtroom drama exposes new evidence of organized crime in highest levels of government in Israel

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Handcuffed Rafi Rotem - Israeli Tax Authority whistleblower, and today's courtroom twits by legal analyst Yuval Yoaz.

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OccupyTLV, May 15 - in a dramatic sentencing hearing in the Tel Aviv District Court today, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's secretary Shula Zaken asked to enter a plea bargain in order to avoid a long prison term. Judge David Rosen examined the new evidence, offered by Zaken, in order to determine whether to accept her plea bargain.

Yuval Yoaz, senior legal analyst for the Globes, twitted from the courtroom:
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ROSEN: The Tax Authority scandal is only one scandal. And it shocks me. She is no secretary. She developed a crime standing of her own...

ROSEN: They ask to appoint their own people. The meaning of this is millions. She tells the Head of the Tax Authority, you can't appoint any person until you talk with my brother.

ROSEN: Let's see the price the public is paying for the plea bargain. This is no secretary. Look what happened in the Tax Authority scandal. Her brother and an accountant, for their own reasons...

At the end of the hearing, Judge David Rosen accepted the plea bargain, and Zaken's prison sentence was reduced to only 11 months. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been sentenced earlier in the week for a 6-year prison term.

The new evidence, provided by Shula Zaken, is likely to start a new set of investigations against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Among others - on obstruction of justice through the payment of Zaken's legal fees through other parties, in effort to keep her silent.

However, as indicated in the twits above, the most shocking part of Zaken's new evidence pertains to organized crime in the Israeli Tax Authority and the highest levels of government. That story is not new at all. It reaffirms the exact claims, which Rafi Rotem, the Tax Authority whistleblower, has been making since 2002: Organized crime by senior officers of the Tax Authority and the highest levels of government. [1]

According to Rotem, starting in 2002, senior Tax Authority political appointees undermined or closed tax investigations worth tens and hundreds of millions NIS against businesses related to organized crime figures, to tycoons, and to government officials.

But in the 12 intervening years, the entire Israeli justice and law-enforcement system has been working in concert to protect such organized crime, to silence Rotem, and to deny him equal protection under the law:

* Judge VARDA SAMET in the Tel Aviv Labor Court permitted his unlawful termination from the Tax Authority through the perversion of justice. Judge Samet was under a conflict of interest - her husband, Attorney Haim Samet, was counsel for the Gibor-Sport Corporation, one of the beneficiaries of the corruption. The closing of the Gibor-Sport investigation was one of the specific cases, which were brought up in Judge Samet's court. Judge Samet also admitted inadmissible evidence against Rotem - unfavorable comments and complaints by co-workers, which were probably forgery, while the corresponding witnesses failed to appear in court. [2]

* Presiding Justice ASHER GRUNIS of the Israeli Supreme Court - continues to refuse to duly serve Rotem a signed and certified judgment in Rotem's petition in Rotem v Samet. The petition was summarily denied, but only an unsigned, uncertified, unauthenticated "Judgment" paper was served, bearing the disclaimer, "subject to editing and phrasing changes". Such "Judgement" again stated that Rotem was no whistleblower, and that his case only represented soured workplace relationships. [3]

* State Ombudsman (retired Judge) YOSEF SHAPIRA - regardless of recent promises, the current Ombudsman, like his two predecessors, continues to refuse to accept formal complaint from Rafi Rotem, and also continues to refuse to accord Rotem the protection due under the law for whistleblowers. In his recent correspondence Ombudsman Shapira claims that the the case started in the"previous century" and ended "five years before I took office". [4]

* TEL AVIV POLICE - have engaged in recent years in the harassment, intimidation and retaliation against Rotem, including, but not limited to, multiple false detentions and beating. [5] In contrast, prior to his whistle-blowing Rotem won a series of appreciation and commendation letters from the Israel Police. [6]

* Attorney General YEHUDA WEINSTEIN - like his predecessor Manny Mezouz (who after leaving office stated that the Tax Authority scandal was "the closest to organized crime in government" [7]), fails to perform his duties and stop the charade.

Overall, the Tax Authority scandal and whistleblower Rafi Rotem confirms the assessment of US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham, in a cable published by Wikileaks, of the merger of organized crime and government in the State of Israel. [8]

Under such circumstances, the Tel Aviv Police now prosecute Rafi Rotem for insulting and harassing policemen on duty, many of the instances - during his false detentions. Such prosecution should be viewed as the persecution of a civil-society activist. And if the prosecution continues, Rafi Rotem is likely to become a political prisoner in Israel. [9]

The Tax Authority scandal in general, and the persecution of Tax Authority whistleblower Rafi Rotem in particular, document the thorough corruption of the Israeli justice system over the past two decades, in parallel to other transformative socio-economic processes in the State of Israel since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhaq Rabin in 1995. [10]

[1] 2014-05-05 Zernik, J., ISRAEL: After years of abuse, Tax-Authority whistleblower Rafi Rotem wins the right to be deposed by State Ombudsman |
[2] 2007-10-02 The Rafi Rotem file: The witnesses, who never took the stand_ Globes (full English translation)
[3] 2014-04-23 Rotem's request for signed and certified copies of decisions in High Court of Justice Petition (1233/08) (full English translation)
[4] 2013-12-19 Letter by 44 journalists to State Ombudsman to provide Rotem protection (full English translation)
[5] 2013-05-31 Repeat false detentions of Rafi Rotem_Maariv (full English translation)
[6] 2004-12-01 Appreciation letter for Rotem by Israel Police -- Intelligence Unit, Tel Aviv -- case of murder of Judge Adi Azar (full English translation)
[7] 2013-06-07 Interview with former Attorney General Manny Mezouz_Haaretz
[8] 2009-05-15 ISRAEL: A PROMISED LAND FOR ORGANIZED CRIME?_US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham (English only)
[9] 2014-05-07 Petition for stopping criminal complaint against Tax Authority Rafi Rotem (full English translation)
[10] 2013-10-26 Zernik, J., ISRAEL: Nation hijacked by a Shin-Bet Judiciary Gang |
Joseph Zernik, PhD
Human Rights Alert (NGO)
* The Human Rights Alert (NGO) submission to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations was incorporated into the 2010 Periodic Review Report regarding Human Rights in the United States, with the note: "corruption of the courts and the legal profession and discrimination by law enforcement in California".
* The Human Rights Alert (NGO) submission to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations was incorporated into the 2013 Periodic Review Report regarding Human Rights in Israel, with the note: "lack of integrity of the electronic records of the Supreme Court, the district courts and the detainees courts in Israel."

Dr Zernik has gained substantial experience in recent years in analyzing banking, courts, and prisons IT systems. His research documented the important role that large-scale fraud in such systems plays in enabling the current financial crisis (more...)

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