Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu.
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Australian billionaire James Packer’s testimony in Case 1000 strengthens the possible charges of fraud and breach of trust against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to media reports.
Law enforcement officials were quoted by Channel 10 News on Thursday as saying the testimony was significant.
Packer, considered a key witness in the so-called “Gifts Affair,” was tracked down after extended searches and delivered his testimony earlier this week. It was stressed that he is not a suspect, so he was not questioned under caution.
It was reported that the questioning was done by Australian federal police investigators in cooperation with a special Israeli team of Lahav 433 investigators and prosecutors.
Packer is reportedly suspected of delivering expensive gifts to the prime minister. It was reported that he was asked by movie producer Arnon Milchan, who confirmed delivering gifts in the past, to “bear with him the gifts burden” – to bring expensive gifts for Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
Recently, the testimony of Hadas Klein, who worked as a personal assistant for both Milchan and Packer, was published.
Klein is considered a key witness in this investigation.
She talked about massive supplies of champagne and cigars.
However, she did not know whether Milchan received anything in return.
Channel 2 News reported on Thursday that Klein said in her testimony that in some incidents Netanyahu himself demanded the gifts, and told her what cigars she should buy.
The prime minister has acknowledged accepting gifts from Milchan but maintains they were exchanged between friends and did not constitute bribery or breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing. “It is allowed, according to the law, to receive gifts from friends,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset in January.
However, the Channel 2 News report revealed a part of Milchan’s testimony that contradicts Netanyahu’s claim. “These are not exactly gifts – these are demands, and you do not demand gifts,” Milchan said. “I was disgusted by that.”
Police are currently checking whether Netanyahu had done anything in return after receiving these gifts.
In response to the reports, Netanyahu said on his Facebook page: “As usual, the TV channels did not approach us for a response to the daily broadcast of tendentious and false leaks, so here is our response: This is yet another attempt to revive a story that has nothing to it, by using false and illegal leaks that also have nothing to them. The public has long been fed up with the orchestrated media witch-hunt whose goal is to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to replace him not via the ballot box. We hereby repeat: There will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
According to reports, Netanyahu is expected to be questioned for the seventh time in the next 10 days.