PM to court: Police tried to bully all witnesses to lie against me

In an unusual strategic move, the defense tried to use allegations that Ritman and Alsheich have made against Netanyahu as the basis for the prejudice accusation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Can he work together with his fellow ministers? (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Can he work together with his fellow ministers?
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense team on Sunday night filed a motion to dismiss the public corruption charges against him without calling any witnesses.
From the start, the defense team, led by lawyers Boaz Ben Tzur and Amit Hadad, provided a series of quotes from interrogations that framed the police as having tried to systematically bully nearly every witness to manufacture allegations against Netanyahu.
Many of the quotes in the motion were new in the sense that they have either not been covered before in the media or have been given little attention until now.
The motion quoted former Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker as telling the police: “I felt that you were pressuring me to lie, and I told the entire truth and only the truth. I will not lie, and I will not say that he [Netanyahu] asked me to handle that [a part of the criminal allegations]. The prime minister did not speak to me about that.”
Next, the motion referred to Ari Harow, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, now turned state’s witness, who told police at one point: “Tell me what you want me to say, and I’ll say it.”
According to the motion (sometimes motions leave out the full context), the police questioner responded: “Tell me instances of something improper, something forbidden, something illegal.”
Regarding former top Communications Ministry official Eitan Tzafrir, the motion said they threatened him, saying: “Don’t destroy your life, okay? Don’t destroy your life. Tell us things about Netanyahu… tell us, tell us.”
In addition, the motion said police told Tzafrir they were ignoring and not writing down answers he would give that did not help them make their case against the prime minister.
Similarly, the motion quoted the police as telling Shlomo Filber, a former Communications Ministry director-general and top Netanyahu aide, now turned state’s witness, that they were not interested in his defenses of Netanyahu and that regarding certain actions he undertook for Bezeq, he had also done them for Cellcom, Partner and HOT.
Bezeq is at the center of Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla Affair, because Netanyahu allegedly influenced communications policy to benefit Shaul Elovitch’s Bezeq company in exchange for Elovitch’s Walla media outlet shifting to positive coverage of the prime minister.
Other points made by the motion were more familiar, such as attacking the police for abusing and blackmailing former top Netanyahu aide Nir Hefetz, now turned state’s witness, into incriminating the prime minister.
The defense team said Hefetz’s physical and mental health, diet and cell had been abused by police. They demanded lifting a gag order on the police’s use of a woman with a romantic connection to Hefetz (who was not his wife) to extort him.
Moreover, the motion said hundreds of intentional leaks by law enforcement to besmirch Netanyahu had likely eliminated his opportunity at a fair trial by unduly prejudicing witnesses and even potentially the court.
Further, the defense said former Lahav 433 head Roni Ritman and former Israel Police insp.-gen. Roni Alsheich were prejudiced against the prime minister.
In an unusual strategic move, the defense tried to use allegations that Ritman and Alsheich have made against Netanyahu as the basis for the prejudice accusation.
Ritman has said Netanyahu sent a junior policewoman to complain about him for alleged sexual harassment. Alsheich has said private investigators were sent by the premier to tail and intimidate law enforcement.
Neither allegation has been proven or disproved. But Netanyahu’s lawyers tried to use the existence of the allegations as proof that Ritman and Alsheich were out to get him.
Little is known about any relationship between Ritman and Netanyahu. But Alsheich was a beloved Netanyahu appointee and tried to protect the prime minister’s wife, Sara, from allegations early in his term.
However, once it became clear to Alsheich that the police would recommend indicting the prime minister, he and Netanyahu became public enemies.
Another point in the motions was that a number of people, such as MKs involved with trying to pass the Yisrael Hayom Law, connected with Case 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Yisrael Hayom media bribery affair, were not indicted even as Netanyahu was.
Based on this, his defense team claimed discrimination.
Though in theory the defense asked the court to dismiss the indictment immediately, many of these arguments, legally speaking, will only come into play after the prosecution has rested its case.
At that point, the defense can ask the court to dismiss the case without need for bringing witnesses in defense.
The prosecution said it would respond on Thursday as scheduled.
The next court hearing when the motions will be argued orally is December 6, with the final pretrial hearing set for January 13.
Presuming the motions to dismiss fail, the trial is set to start in February.