AG rejects PM's request for airing pre-indictment hearing live

Mandelblit's office was caught by surprise and initially merely said it would consider its response.

By
September 27, 2019 09:40
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and  Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. (photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/HAARETZ/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sudden request on Thursday to air his pre-indictment hearings set for next week on a live feed.

Netanyahu said that so much of the case has been improperly leaked by law enforcement to the media that he prefers everything be out in the open rather than half-baked leaks about what happened at the pre-indictment hearings which are intended to hurt him.

The prime minister is scheduled for pre-indictment hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, though there could be additional hearings later in October.

Mandelblit must decide whether to continue with his February 28 announcement of an intent to indict Netanyahu for bribery, or whether to reduce or drop the charges.

Netanyahu previously asked to have a live confrontation with the state’s witnesses – something he has no particular right to by law. That request was also rejected.

But the pre-indictment hearings, though usually private, are supposed to be for the defendant’s benefit.

Rejecting the request, Mandelblit said that a live feed would infect the objectivity of the process, even as the defendant Netanyahu said he does not want privacy.

The attorney-general added that no pre-indictment hearing has ever been aired live before, and that the request itself showed that Netanyahu was turning the hearing into a circus instead of taking it seriously.

Mandelblit also slammed Netanyahu for having turned in a very short legal brief leading into the hearing, instead of a more serious document.

He said this also showed that Netanyahu was using the hearing for public relations and not to address the charges.

Netanyahu did not respond to Mandelblit in a speech he gave less than 30 minutes after Mandelblit’s answer was publicized.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 reported that the state prosecution had recommended to Mandelblit that he indict Yediot Aharonot owner Arnon (Nuni) Mozes and Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch for bribery for their parts in the Netanyahu criminal cases, even after hearing their arguments for acquittal in recent pre-indictment hearings.

Though Mandelblit is not bound by these recommendations, they could foreshadow bad news for Netanyahu as generally if one party in a bribery scheme is indicted for bribery, the other party – in this case the prime minister – will also be indicted.

That said, Mandelblit already designated Netanyahu for more lenient treatment than Mozes when he announced an intent, prior to the pre-indictment hearings, to indict Netanyahu for mere breach of public trust in Case 2000, while Mozes was classified as having perpetrated bribery.

Also on Thursday, Tel Aviv Economic Crimes Division Chief Liat Ben Ari, who has been the lead prosecutor in the Netanyahu cases, was officially appointed to become the next deputy state attorney for economic crimes.

Ben Ari’s appointment had been stalled for months.

Critics had said her appointment was stalled as payback for her involvement in the Netanyahu cases.

Following a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, her appointment was finally approved.


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