Investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak, who runs the News1 website, said Sunday that he had warned several times that Israel Police Brig.-Gen. Efraim Bracha might commit suicide, and that the law enforcement branches should have acted more swiftly against him and taken his gun from him.
Yitzchak had led the investigative assault on Bracha, by means of his newspaper.
"To the best of my understanding, Brig.-Gen. Bracha took his own life because he knew what had been revealed to the the investigators at the Police Internal Investigations Department and understood that he was about to be summoned for an interrogation under warning within the next few days,” Yitzchak told Army Radio.
"I published suspicions of very serious offenses by Efraim Bracha. I stand behind the publications and it is too bad that the truth will not be verified to the end,” he added.
Despite some voices blaming him for Bracha's death, Yitzchak was unrepentant. “Instead of giving his version and fighting for his innocence, he decided to take his own life,” he said. Yitzchak added that he expected that the law enforcement authorities would act more swiftly to interrogate Bracha. “To the best of my understanding, if they had done so in time and taken away his gun, this sad event would have been avoided.”
Yitzchak called the suicide a tragedy. “I was surprised by the timing of the deed. I warned that this might happen and I wrote as much,” he said.
Bracha, the head of the police's National Fraud Unit, became the center of the Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto corruption scandal.
Pinto admitted that he had attempted to bribe Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was closely involved with.
Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself. Bracha was cleared of any wrongdoing in the affair, but his name was still tainted by the process. Pinto claimed that he had given Bracha additional sums of money during their years of friendship, and Bracha denied this.
Last week, Channel 10 reported that the Police Internal Investigations Department was investigating claims that Bracha passed along information to suspects targeted by other investigations. The Channel 10 report included claims from Pinto regarding Bracha's conduct, and the Police Internal Investigations Department announced that a criminal investigation into Bracha could follow.
A Modi'in resident who was married with four children, he was 55 when he died. He was widely considered to be one of the most senior officials in the Israel Police.
He was found lifeless in his car on Sunday morning, according to Channel 2, after he told his wife early Sunday he needed to go outside for a moment to "get some air."