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Outgoing deputy AG warns of ‘extreme’ discourse on Netanyahu trial, backs plea deal

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The outgoing deputy attorney general has backed a plea bargain in former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial, saying both sides have an incentive to reach one and that all Israelis would benefit from it in light of the “extreme” and “dangerous” public discourse the proceedings are eliciting.

Raz Nizri announced he was leaving the Justice Ministry in January, after failing to make a shortlist of candidates to become attorney general.

In a pair of television interviews with Channel 13 news and the Kan public broadcaster aired on Saturday, Nizri said the polarized discourse regarding the ongoing trial was compromising public trust in Israel’s institutions.

“I always called it a discussion between Netanyahu’s worshipers and his haters. The worshipers, as far as they’re concerned, in every situation Netanyahu is innocent and persecuted. On the other hand, Netanyahu’s haters believe that an investigation was never needed and he should have been put in jail immediately,” he told Channel 13.

“These are populistic approaches that make public discourse more extreme and increase criticism of law enforcement while lowering public trust in law enforcement. This is dangerous, of course,” he said.

Nizri suggested that reaching a plea bargain in the former prime minister’s ongoing trial would be in the interest of both the defense and the prosecution.

“It would constitute proper risk management by both sides,” Nizri argued. “It would also be beneficial to the public and the state,” he added, noting that another reason would be curbing the extreme and often violent nature of the public debate surrounding the trial.

Former prime minister MK Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the District Court in Jerusalem on May 17, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Netanyahu, 72, is on trial in three separate graft cases: for fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.

He denies all allegations against him, and claims the charges were fabricated by a biased police force and state prosecution service, overseen by a weak attorney general, in league with political opponents and the leftist media.

Nizri told Kan he still stands behind his stance that Netanyahu should not have been charged with bribery in Case 4000, and shouldn’t have been charged at all in Case 2000.

However, he declined to go into specifics during the interviews and said that then-attorney general Avichai Mandelblit had made his decision based on “comprehensive and serious discussions.” Nizri added: “The decision was made, on some matters my opinion was accepted, on some matters it wasn’t. That is completely fine, that’s how things are done.”

In May, Netanyahu reportedly stated he would not consider any plea bargain in his ongoing corruption trial. A plea deal would likely include a conviction on offenses that would force the former prime minister out of public office.

Nizri also said some of Netanyahu’s statements regarding Israel’s judicial system are “extremely dangerous.”

Nizri was involved in many of the legal proceedings that led to Netanyahu’s indictment and ongoing trial in three graft cases, and experienced first-hand the former prime minister’s verbal assaults on the Israeli judicial system.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement before entering a courtroom at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24, 2020, for the start of his corruption trial. Alongside him from left are Likud MKs and ministers including Amir Ohana, Miri Regev, Nir Barkat, Israel Katz, Tzachi Hanegbi and Yoav Gallant. (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

Along with Netanyahu’s own allegations that he was being framed by a corrupt Israeli state prosecution, “we started seeing attacks from the right on the judicial system, dangerous attacks that tried to politically defame [the system] by accusing it of frameups,” Nizri told Channel 13 in an interview marking his retirement.

“If I’d thought people were being framed I wouldn’t have stayed in the system for even a minute and wouldn’t have defended it,” he stated.

“We definitely reached situations where we should have said: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you can’t do something like that.’”

Appearing in court for the beginning of his corruption trial in May 2020, Netanyahu ripped into police, prosecutors and the judicial system as a whole, referring to the trial as a “political coup against the will of the people.”

“Elements in the police and State Attorney’s Office banded together with left-wing journalists… to fabricate baseless cases against me,” he charged at the time and has continued to maintain.

In April last year, then-prime minister Netanyahu openly defied forceful warnings by then-attorney general Avichai Mandelblit and tried to push through the appointment of Likud MK Ofir Akunis as justice minister despite the move being illegal.

That attempt was eventually halted by the High Court of Justice.

Some of the things Netanyahu said, Nizri argued, were “false, dangerous and inciting statements, because they undermined the basic foundations of the rule of law and democracy.”

He added: “Not respecting the position of the attorney general is a slippery slope in regards to the damage it causes the rule of law and the democratic system in Israel.”


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Police Dismiss Inspector Caught Demanding Bribe In Viral Video After 22 Years In Service – Nigerian Observer

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Lagos – After almost 22 years in the service of the Nigeria Police Force, a Police Inspector, Mr. Richard Gele with Force number AP/No. 188547 has been dismissed by the authority for allegedly demanding bribe from a motorist along the highway in Kogi State.

The dismissed officer who had served the Force for almost 22 years was arrested through a video recorded by the victims and went viral on internet recently.

The former Police officer was dismissed, de-kitted and handed over to the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State, for further necessary action on Friday.

Trouble started for Mr. Gele when he was caught in a viral video dignifying and justifying extortion of members of the public and official corruption.

According to the authority, his dismissal was connected with flouting the policing standards in tandem with international best practices to the nation.

He was caught in a video which trended from July 25, 2022 which warranted he being subjected to internal disciplinary mechanism.

Confirming the dismissal in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi says he was found wanting of the charges levelled against him in line with extant laws governing the conduct of police personnel, hence he therefore ceases to be a member of the Nigeria Police Force with immediate effect.

The statement read “The Nigeria Police Force has dismissed one Mr. Richard Gele, the Police Inspector caught in a viral video dignifying and justifying extortion of members of the public and official corruption which trended from the 25th of July, 2022.

“The Inspector, with AP/No. 188547, who until his dismissal, was attached to Police Mobile Force 77 Squadron, Okene, Kogi State and deployed to the Itobe – Anyigba Road, for safety of road users and commuters, along the route, where the incident occurred.

“The dismissed Inspector who hails from Benue State, was enlisted into the Force in September, 2000. His dismissal came after subjection to internal disciplinary mechanism and being found wanting of the charges levelled against him in line with extant laws governing the conduct of police personnel.

“He therefore ceases to be a member of the Nigeria Police Force with immediate effect. The officer has been de-kitted and handed over to the Commissioner of Police, Kogi State, for further necessary action.

“The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc(+), NPM, fdc, while expressing the staunch commitment of his administration at bequeathing policing standards in tandem with international best practices to the nation, warned all personnel to eschew extortion, unprofessionalism, official corruption and other inappropriate acts. The IGP urged them to display exemplary courage and patriotism in the discharge of their duties”, the statement added.




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Woman seen bloody and beaten after rape at BREC park Wednesday afternoon

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BATON ROUGE – A woman was heard screaming “Rape” after a brutal attack in a BREC park on South Harrells Ferry Road Wednesday afternoon.

Stream WBRZ newscasts live here. 

The Baton Rouge Police Department said Friday the incident happened shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday at Forest Community Park on South Harrells Ferry Road.

Officers told WBRZ a woman was walking along a park trail when she was attacked by a male suspect. 

A source said they saw the woman covered in blood and bruises, screaming for help after the assault. 

“If a person was bold enough to attack someone in broad daylight, it’s not to say it’s their first time, it’s not to say this will be their last time,” BRPD spokesman L’Jean McKneely said.

A witness said the rapist is a black male with short braids, around 5’8″ or 5’11”, weighing around 200 pounds. He may have a broken nose. 

BRPD did not give a suspect description.

If you have any information about this incident, you are urged to call police.

This is a developing story. 


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Police harassment, extortion return in force

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OPPRESSIVE Nigeria Police officers have stubbornly refused to change, as the temporary gains of the #EndSARS protests of 2020 have long been eroded. With ferocious impunity, armed bribe-seeking police officers are devising new methods at police stations, checkpoints, bus stops, and traffic light junctions to extort money from ordinary Nigerians. Hardest hit are the youth, who are already struggling for survival in a country battered by unprecedented unemployment and security challenges. This broad daylight robbery in official uniform must stop!

To curb the menace, the police authorities and the government must adopt tougher sanctions, including publicly shaming culprits and prosecuting them for serious criminal charges.

When rogue police officers strike, far from enforcing law, they are lawbreakers hiding under the cover of the state. The law is clear; a person who robs at gunpoint is engaging in armed robbery; they should be treated as such.

The desperation by some police officers for ill-gotten wealth is costing lives. A 17-year-old boy, Emma, was shot dead by a police inspector on July 15 at a checkpoint in Benin, Edo State, because the victim and his friend refused to part with money. According to reports, the boy was preparing to travel abroad that week when he was killed. What a waste! A police sergeant, James Aondona, also shot dead a truck driver, AondohumbaTerkula, on June 26, following an argument over the payment of a bribe at a roadblock in Anyi, Logo Local Government Area of Benue State.

Though most cases go unreported, social media is helping to expose some heartless cops. An inspector, Richard Gele, attached to the Police Mobile Force 77 Squadron, Okene, Kogi State, was exposed last month on Twitter after being filmed justifying police extortion of members of the public. He was later sacked.

Two officers attached to the Lagos State Police Command were also exposed through social media after they extorted N400,000 from a man, who cried out for help. The cops dragged him to a PoS terminal operator where they withdrew the money from his account. They were also deservedly dismissed. But not all victims report their ordeal through conventional means or social media. A 2016 NOI Polls survey said 76 per cent of victims of human rights violations in Nigeria did not report them.

Knowing they could be easily tracked and identified through banking transfers, some bent police officers have found accomplices in unscrupulous PoS operators. A recent PUNCH investigation confirmed this trend at the Berger-Isheri Junction of Lagos, where police officers were seen leading motorists to PoS operators to demand bribes for alleged traffic intersection light infractions. The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, recently raised the alarm that the vendors had formed an unholy alliance with some officers to make extortion easier by plying their trade close to police stations.

The rip-off persists because the police authorities fail to enforce discipline. The Nigeria Police Force is arguably the most undisciplined and corrupt security agency in the country. A 2019 survey by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said out of five major public institutions it surveyed, the police emerged as the most corrupt.

Senior police officers have been alleged to receive“returns” from the rank and file, making orders almost impossible to enforce. Despite the grandstanding of the Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, in April that Divisional Police Officers and Area Commanders would be held accountable for the unprofessional conduct of their officers, evidence of action against errant SPOs since the resurgence of this extortion crisis has been absent. Orders by past inspector-generals of police, and the incumbent, Usman Baba, to dismantle roadblocks have been routinely ignored. This should not happen in a regimented organisation.

The Nigeria Police requires comprehensive reforms to create disciplined, competent, and trained officers at all levels. The recruitment process should be sanitised to sift out recruits with criminal records who compromise the system. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo faulted the police recruitment process saying it had allowed armed robbers to enter the force. Ukraine and Georgia at separate times dismantled their entire police forces and started afresh.

Henceforth, officers caught in acts of extortion should be publicly tried, prosecuted, and jailed. They should face criminal charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping where their victims are led at gunpoint to ATMs or PoS terminals to make cash withdrawals. The DPOs and area commanders must also get their deserved comeuppance. The police provost and disciplinary unit should become more active, strengthened, and empowered to discharge its function diligently.

The IG must hold his officers accountable. Working with the Police Service Commission, he should order the zonal commanders, and commissioners of police to identify and flush out rogue officers. CPs and AIGs should be given performance targets failing which they get recalled or transferred. A popular American author, John Maxwell, said everything rises and falls on leadership.

The civil society must not give up. It is apparent that the events that sparked the #EndSARS protests have multiplied. As feared by many, the SARS disbandment was a charade, the much-needed reforms have not followed.

But Nigerians and the youth especially, should not give up.Push-back and protests against police extortion, police brutality, and abuse of power should be sustained. Victims must continue to speak up. Social media has become a veritable tool for reporting injustice and should continually be deployed responsibly to expose police corruption and other societal vices.

It is bad enough that young Nigerians do not get job opportunities despite years in school, extended often by many months of needless industrial actions. They lack opportunities and social amenities that help their contemporaries thrive in other climes. They still manage to move around only for some cruel officers, hired and maintained by the state to protect them, to turn round to harass and profile them as fraudsters. And for daring to demand their rights, they are gunned down in their prime with unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. Nigerians should stand for their rights and oppose police harassment.


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