Nir Hefetz (Avshalom Sassoni/Maariv).
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
A day after the revelation of the “texts affair,” which caused a public outcry against the credibility of the court, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court decided to extend the remand of Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former media adviser and confidant Nir Hefetz another seven days.
The two are at the heart of the “Bezeq affair,” known as Case 4000. The case looks into the relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch, who also owns the Walla! news website.
Police suspect that Netanyahu acted to benefit Bezeq in return for favorable coverage on the news site.
PM Netanyahu reacts to claims against him in Case 4000 (Facebook-Benjamin Netanyahu)
Judge Ala Masarwa replaced Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz following the revelation of text messages allegedly showing that the previous decision to extend the remand was done in coordination with the legal representative of the Israel Securities Authority (ISA).
In light of the affair, representatives of the suspects claimed that the legal procedure was “contaminated” and asked for their immediate release.
In his decision to extend the suspects’ remand, Masarwa said despite the controversy that came with the media revelation of the text messages, the evidence was too strong to let them go.
Hefetz is suspected of bribery and obstruction of justice. He is at the center of both the “Bezeq affair” and the police case that looks into an alleged attempt to appoint judge Hila Gerstl as attorney-general in 2015 in return for closing police cases involving Sara Netanyahu in the “attorney-general job affair,” dubbed Case 1270.
Police consider Hefetz to be “an asset,” and they are trying to pressure him into signing a state’s-witness deal, Channel 2 News reported.
During the court discussion on Monday, one of the ISA attorneys said Elovitch is suspected of receiving about NIS 1 billion in bribes.
In response, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that all of Netanyahu’s decisions regarding Bezeq were made in a “professional manner” based on the advise of legal professionals.
The statement said that “as the Justice Ministry itself said in a report to the state comptroller: ‘The prime minister did not make any controversial decisions... There was no decision that benefited Bezeq specifically, which you can point to as a controversial decision and as one that could be suspected of being a conflict of interests.’ “The truth is not standing in the way of this witch hunt against the prime minister,” the statement said.
“Every day the numbers are rising. At first they were talking about tens of millions, then hundreds of millions.
Today is one billion, and tomorrow one trillion. But the truth will win, and the hot air will blow out of this balloon – because there was nothing.”
The court also decided on Monday to shorten the remand of media consultant Eli Kamir by a day. He will be released on Wednesday.
Elovitch’s wife, Iris, Bezeq CEO Stella Handler and Bezeq senior official Amikam Shorer were released, according to the court’s decision.