Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Case of Uri Suissa

Case of Uri Suissa

Internal Comptroller - Justice Ministry, Jerusalem, Israel

The Civil Service Commission is looking into an allegation that a senior official in the Justice Ministry sexually harassed a female worker and that pressure was put on her to deny the charge.

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  1. Senior Justice Ministry official accused of sexual harassment (02/04/2004)

Senior Justice Ministry official accused of sexual harassment
By Ruth Sinai
Haaretz - Feburary 4, 2004

The Civil Service Commission is looking into an allegation that a senior official in the Justice Ministry sexually harassed a female worker and that pressure was put on her to deny the charge.

Uri Suissa, the internal comptroller of the ministry, allegedly sexually harassed a secretary in the state prosecution. Three weeks ago, as the investigation against him was underway, Suissa won the tender for supervisor of advanced training courses for lawyers and interns in the civil service. All four members of the committee that chose him were aware of the disciplinary investigation being carried out against him.

Suissa's appointment led to a storm among ministry officials, who said the tender should have been postponed until the investigation was completed, or the appointment should have been delayed. Ministry sources, however, said the investigation had been going on for months and it was not clear when it would conclude. So far, despite the fact that most of the investigation is over, no decision has been made by the commission on whether to charge Suissa with a disciplinary infringement.

The story broke about half a year ago, when an anonymous letter was received by advocate Rivka Shaked, who is in charge of women's advancement in the civil service. The letter alleged that Suissa had abused the secretary. Even though the secretary denied this, the commission decided an investigation should be carried out. The woman subsequently gave evidence several times and reportedly described the alleged attacks by Suissa.

Sources close to Suissa said the woman had written a letter recanting her testimony but investigators believe she may have done this under duress, including pressure from a senior official. It is not clear whether such a letter actually reached the commission.

The lawyers representing Suissa, Ro'i and David Politi, denied all the allegations against their client and said he had been suffering for half a year. "His personal, family and professional life has come to a standstill. We have evidence acquitting [Suissa] and pointing to an attempt to incriminate him," the lawyers said, adding the evidence was being turned over to the police. They said they believed the affair would end with someone else facing charges.

Suissa is the second senior Justice Ministry official to be investigated on charges of harassment over the past year. Three months ago, Amnon Aviad, director of the property register in Jerusalem (Tabu), was charged with harassing 12 female workers. According to the charge sheet presented to the civil service disciplinary tribunal, Aviad said to workers in his office, in previous sexual harassment cases: "It is a shame that he merely harassed the plaintiff... If he had raped her, he would at least have enjoyed himself."



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