Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The results of the probe into the texting between the judge running the "Bezeq-media" pretrial hearings and a state lawyer at those hearings will be sent to the attorney-general Monday night and announced publicly on Tuesday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Monday afternoon.
Late Sunday night, Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz stepped down from the “Bezeq-media case” after she was caught exchanging text messages with Israel Securities Authority attorney Eran Shaham-Shavit about detention proceedings.
The latest twist in the investigation – for which two of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides
have been in police custody for the past week – was first reported by Channel 10 news. This was followed by a Sunday night announcement from Shaked and Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut saying they would refer Poznansky-Katz, the pre-trial judge in what is known as Case 4000, for potential disciplinary action.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit also ordered a disciplinary probe of Shaham-Shavit late Sunday, who will be suspended pending completion of the probe against him.
Photographs of the text messages between Poznansky-Katz and Shaham-Shavit appeared to show them planning how many days of detention various suspects in Case 4000 would get. There was no comment by press time from the securities authority.
Coordination, in which defense lawyers get to weigh in on arguments by the state outside the public process, can be grounds for overturning an extended detention order.
Poznansky-Katz will step aside from running the case, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court spokesman’s office announced Sunday night. The judge voluntarily stepped aside and is being replaced by Judge Ala Masrawa.
The court spokesman’s office said that Poznansky-Katz will not conduct any further in-court hearings pending the completion of the disciplinary process and noted that she is about to enter a sabbatical year.
The “Bezeq case”
is an investigation into allegations that Netanyahu ordered his top aide, Shlomo Filber, whom he installed as director-general of the Communications Ministry, to make policy rulings in favor of the telecommunications giant. In exchange, the news site Walla! is alleged to have agreed to give positive news coverage to Netanyahu as dictated by his aide, Nir Hefetz, and possibly by Sara Netanyahu.
The go-between in the alleged exchange is Shaul Elovitch, who owns both Walla! and Bezeq.
It appears that the suspects discussed in the text messages, who were referred to mainly by first name, were Shaul Elovitch and his wife, Iris, along with various other Bezeq officials.
Several politicians and at least one NGO immediately issued statements attacking the judge and the lawyer and called for harsh steps to be taken against them.