(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut gave testimony to police on Tuesday night on the most recent corruption scandal relating to Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
In an unheard of move, the court spokeswoman sent out a message, coordinated with the police, summarizing Hayut's testimony immediately after she had given it.
After multiple reporters criticized Hayut and the spokeswoman in a closed reporters Whats App group for the failure to report and for trying to frame Hayut's testimony to the public or even obstruct the probe, the spokewoman clarified that the statement was coordinated with police.
Hayut was one of the people justice Hila Gerstl confided with in 2015 after she was allegedly approached with an offer by Nir Hefetz, a senior advisor to the prime minister, to be appointed Attorney General in exchange for ending an ongoing case against Sarah Netanyahu.
Neither Gerstl nor Hayut reported the incident to police at the time. Gerstl said she turned the offer down unambiguously.
A statement by the Justice Ministry said Hayut was told about the request after it had already been turned down.
"She was informed that someone close to the prime minister spoke to a friend of hers [Gerstl’s] and inquired about Gerstl’s position on the investigation into the prime minister’s wife,” the statement read. “Greets voiced dismay, but told Hayut she could not elaborate further or identify the people involved.
Due to the shortage of details and the vague story Gerstl chose to share with her, Hayut had no substance on which take any step.”
Sara Netanyahu was under investigation at the time for a range of alleged offenses in the Prime Minister’s Residence Affair.
he new scandal appears to have come out as part of probing Hefetz’s involvement in the Bezeq media affair, an investigation into whether aides to Netanyahu, and possibly the prime minister himself, arranged favorable treatment for Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from the Walla media outlet. Shaul Elovitch is a lead suspect and owns both Bezeq and Walla.
The police brought Hefetz to court on Tuesday to extend his detention beyond Thursday, which the court had already granted in the Bezek media affair, in order to question him further about the new case.
Though the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court rejected the extension request in the morning, by Tuesday afternoon, the Tel Aviv District Court had accepted the police’s request on appeal and ordered both Hefetz and Kamir detained until Sunday.
Netanyahu immediately said that he did not believe Hefetz made such an offer.
He again accused forces of trying to topple him through a nondemocratic “crusade.”
He said that all changes to state policy regarding Bezeq were vetted and approved by officials at the professional expert level. However, previous reports have indicated almost universally that the bulk of the professional level was opposed to the Bezeq policy changes in question.
Further, the Tel Aviv District Court described the evidence as overwhelmingly strong, and law enforcement officials were quoted as saying that with a witness such as Gerstl testifying that the bribe offer was made to her, the case was a slam dunk.