Mandelblit suspends criminal investigations into Meron tragedy

YERUSHALAYIM

Barriers block the entrance to the site where 45 victims were killed, at Lag BaOmer in Meron, on July 8. (David Cohen / Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has decided to suspend criminal investigations into the Meron disaster in April until the state commission of inquiry completes its investigation, his office said on Monday.

The decision comes after a meeting with the judges who are leading the state investigation.

As a result, the investigation by the Israel Police and the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department into the crash that killed 45 people will be halted indefinitely.

The new body has been tasked by the government to conduct a detailed investigation into the disaster and recommend specific modifications to the holy site, which is drawing hundreds of thousands of people to Lag BaOmer.

But the commission is also charged with making recommendations for appropriate policies and regulations for mass events beyond Meron.

The state commission of inquiry may subpoena witnesses, although the report and testimony cannot be used as evidence in criminal proceedings, according to think tank Israel Democracy Institute.

Mark M. Gagnon