MIKI GANOR, ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel, waits at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
The state prosecution formally threatened key state’s witness Miki Ganor on Thursday that it may rescind his partial immunity deal based on his changed story this week in Case 3000, the Submarine Affair.
It gave his lawyers until Wednesday to sufficiently explain Ganor’s mystifying change of heart to preserve his deal.
On Wednesday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court approved a police request to keep Ganor detained until at least Sunday to investigate his altered narrative.
However, on Thursday, the Lod District Court reversed that ruling, leading the prosecution to appeal to the Supreme Court to try to keep Ganor in police custody.
The Supreme Court was expected to hear the issue on Friday.
Police said late Tuesday that they may scrap Ganor’s partial immunity agreement because of the changes he wants to make to his testimony.
Ganor is the former sales representative of Thyssenkrupp Israel, a German company involved with selling Israel nuclear submarines.
Until now, he was signed onto a deal to testify for the prosecution in exchange for only having to serve one year in prison and a NIS 10 million fine, which would leave significant other funds leftover for his use.
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.
At Wednesday’s court hearing, 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 pressure from police.
Late Thursday, 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 12 also reported that Ganor has revealed that before bringing former navy chief Eliezer Marom into the affair, he had offered Likud Construction Minister Yoav Gallant a role.
Reportedly, Gallant’s fee for consultation was too high. Despite this additional news, Gallant is not expected to become a new suspect.
Channel 13 reported that the initial review of new possible connections between Netanyahu and Case 3000 has moved along to the prosecution requesting additional documents from State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, who first uncovered the new issues.
The police announcement Tuesday night appeared to come out of nowhere regarding an immunity 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.
According to the press release, Ganor came to the police on Tuesday and suddenly said he wanted to change his narrative in the case. This led the police to question him under caution for a new potential set of crimes and may lead them to dropping his immunity deal.
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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