Israel's police commander resigns

Commission says chief ignored ties between officers, crime family in latest official scandal

February 19, 2007

JERUSALEM -- Israel's police commander resigned yesterday after a government commission said he ignored ties between senior officers and underworld figures and failed to ensure a thorough investigation into the 1999 killing of a suspected crime boss.

The resignation of Moshe Karadi was the latest in a series of public scandals and controversies involving Israel's top leadership - including rape allegations against the president and questions over the prime minister's role in a bank sale.

Earlier yesterday, commission Chairman Vardi Zeiler, a retired judge, said Karadi should lose his job for the incomplete investigation and for ignoring ties between senior police officers and top organized crime figures. Karadi was not police commissioner at the time of the killing, but a departmental head.

Terminating Karadi's appointment would "highlight a clear norm for generations to come that someone who behaves like Karadi would be unable to complete his term as police commissioner," Zeiler told reporters.

The commission was formed to examine whether police properly closed the case of the murder, in which a rogue police officer confessed to shooting a suspected crime boss hospitalized under police guard after an assassination attempt.

The officer, who said he operated at the behest of a well-known Israeli crime family, was later killed in Mexico, allegedly by members of the crime family angered by his confession. The case was later closed after police concluded there was not enough evidence.

Karadi insisted that the allegations against him were untrue, but said he was resigning to "set a personal example" and spare the police the harm of a scandal.

Karadi was a top official in southern Israel at the time of the 1999 killing, and the commission rebuked him for promoting a police commander suspected in hushing up the case on behalf of the crime family that allegedly hired the murdered officer.

Israelis have become increasingly disheartened by their leadership.

Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz recently resigned as the military chief of staff after coming under withering criticism for the flawed summer war against Lebanese guerrillas.

President Moshe Katsav, now on a leave of absence, has been accused of preying on women who worked for him, and faces allegations of rape, sexual assault and abuse of power.

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