MIKI GANOR, ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel, waits at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
The key state’s witness in the Submarines Affair, Miki Ganor, was released to house arrest for at least 15 days by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday with the future of the blockbuster case still in question.
Ganor – who will be kept under 24-hour surveillance, is prohibited from contact with others in the case and cannot leave the country – is the former sales representative of ThyssenKrupp Israel, a German company involved with selling Israel nuclear submarines.
While working with the police as a state’s witness, Ganor had admitted to having a major role in perpetrating a bribery and fraud scheme in which he and top officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in the defense establishment skimmed off the top of the submarine deal.
The court ordered Ganor released following a dizzying series of dramatic events.
Last week, Ganor told the police that despite nearly two years of being the lead cooperating witness against the long list of prominent suspects, he had decided to break his partial immuni-ty deal and recant part of his testimony.
Ganor’s shocking announcement put police on the defensive and raised questions about whether the case might collapse.
Since last Tuesday, Ganor has been in police detention as they tried to get him to stick to his partial immunity deal as well as to start questioning him under caution should they need to bring new charges against him for obstruction of justice.
Throughout the last week the police successfully fought off the attempts of Ganor’s lawyers to get him released to house arrest, with the case even going to the Supreme Court this past Fri-day.
Ganor was expected to be kept in police custody for several more days before the sudden po-lice announcement Tuesday that they would recommend the court release him to house ar-rest.
It was unclear if the reason the police shifted its position to letting him be released related to having acquired enough evidence from interrogations over the last seven days, giving up on getting him to return to being cooperative or simply giving both sides space before the sides make final decisions about how they are going forward.
THE STATE prosecution is already set to meet with Ganor’s lawyers on Wednesday to give them a last chance to convince the prosecution why it should not annul Ganor’s partial immun-ity deal.
Under his deal, Ganor would have served only one year in prison and paid a NIS 10 million fine. With no deal, he may face several years in prison and additional millions he has overseas may face seizure.
At a court hearing last week, Ganor’s lawyer said he was sticking to all of the factual narrative he told police, but was altering how he thought police should interpret his intent.
For example, when he funneled funds to other suspects in the case, he is now saying he was not bribing them, but paying for services.
Instead, he is saying that when he admitted to bribery earlier, it was only under massive pres-sure from police.
Also last week, Channel 12 reported that police confronted Ganor with someone close to him to tell him his change of heart is false and to try to get him to return to the story he had in his 50 prior meetings with police.
Channel 13 reported last week that the initial review of new possible connections between Netanyahu and Case 3000 has moved along to the prosecution requesting additional docu-ments from State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, who first uncovered the new issues.
The police announcement last Tuesday appeared to come out of nowhere regarding an im-munity deal and massive cooperation by Ganor dating back to July 2017.
Ganor’s cooperation was critical in the case against the about half a dozen top officials, which led to police recommendations for bribery and other charges in November 2018.
It is unknown at this time why Ganor had a change of heart or if the developments have any relation to the new possible connections between Netanyahu and Case 3000, which Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit recently started to review.
There is speculation that Ganor is trying to deny he was bribed after realizing that his partial immunity deal created problems for him to access many of his funds overseas even as those funds were not formally seized by Israel.
Senior Justice Ministry sources have said that even if Ganor changes his narrative, the state prosecution can legally use his narrative given to date against the other suspects at trial.
Likewise, the sources said the prosecution has a large volume of external documentary and other evidence that supports Ganor’s narrative to date, even if he tries to change it.
Finally, the sources said the Attorney-General’s Office’s initial understanding of Ganor’s changed decision is that it has nothing to do with Netanyahu.
While the timing is extraordinary, the attorney-general seems to view this development as a coincidence.
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