The military prosecution said Tuesday it was working on a plea bargain for Brigadier General Ofek Buchris, who was charged with 17 counts of sexual misconduct.
Buchris faces charges of rape, indecent assault and inappropriate behavior, allegedly committed during his previous command in the IDF between 2010 and 2013.
While the terms of the plea bargain stipulate that he will not serve a prison sentence, it was proven that he lied throughout the investigation about sexually assaulting and raping a female soldier who served under his command.
“Buchris lied during a press conference outside his house,” the prosecution claimed. “If he had admitted it when the affair surfaced, he would have been discharged from the IDF without such a serious indictment. The plea bargain is a message of deterrence to officers not to carry out illegal acts during their command, even if there is consent to them.”
The plea—the final details of which are currently being fleshed out—will be presented on Wednesday afternoon to the two complainants against him. While their responses will be taken into account, they are not expected to bear sufficient weight to preclude its acceptance.
The military prosecution will seek to convince them that it represents the best possible outcome in light of the evidence available. Moreover, the plaintiffs will be told that accepting the bargain will also save them the trauma of having to testify in the witness stand.
Military prosecutors will also highlight Buchris’ departure from the military on the eve of his appointment to become the head of the IDF’s Operations Division as constituting a key component of his punishment.
The final verdict however, ultimately lies with the Judge Orli Markman, who will be asked by the prosecution to approve the plea.
While Buchris refused on Tuesday to comment on the terms being formulated, the plea bargain will include a confession of sexual assault and rape. These charges will be converted into charges of consensual sexual assault.
According to Buchris’s confession set forth in the deal, the incidents in question took place with one of the alleged victims on a number of different occasions—a fact which contradicts his version to which he consistently stuck throughout the case that no sexual misconduct or intimate behavior ever occurred.
Charges of indecent acts carried out against the second victim will also be converted into charges of inappropriate behaviour. Indeed, during the investigation, Buchris confessed to having engaged in intimate relations on one occasion but claimed that it was initiated by the complainant and stopped by him. He will receive a suspended prison sentence pending the approval of the court.
Overall, 17 sexual harassment charges against two female soldiers over a period of three years from July 2010 to September 2013 were leveled against him.
The incidents are said to have taken place in a holiday cabin, in his room on his military base, in his office and even in his military vehicle. On one occasion, it has been alleged that an assault took place in the home of one of the complainants.
Still honored at Golani Museum
The director of the Golani Brigade Museum, Col. (res.) Yom-Tov Hazan expressed his support of Buchris in an interview with Ynet on Wednesday.
“Buchris is being forced to confess against his will,” he said, determining that “There’s no way of knowing what happened with that little whippersnapper secretary.”
Hazan went on to explain that “You never know what these whippersnappers did. How long would a brigade commander have for the officer who complained against him? He spends all of his time busy with training or operations.”
The director also insisted the Buchris’ pictures will remain featured in the museum as one of the former commanders of the brigade.
“Throughout the years he aided in commemoration activities and there wasn’t once we turned to him for help and he said no,” Hazan explained.