Netanyahu trial: defense accuse law enforcement of playing with evidence

Jerusalem District Court has convened for the third hearing in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial on corruption charges.

Round three of the trial of Benjamin Netanyahu takes place in Jerusalem, with none of the defendents present. November 15, 2020 (photo credit: SHALEV SHALOM / YEDIOTH AHRONOTH)
Round three of the trial of Benjamin Netanyahu takes place in Jerusalem, with none of the defendents present. November 15, 2020
Lawyers for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told the Jerusalem District Court that a key state witness in 2018 had accused law enforcement of playing games with evidence to try to nail the prime minister with corruption charges.
The witness in question was former top Netanyahu aide and current state's witness Shlomo Filber.
In early 2018, Filber was not yet cooperating with the state and was also criticizing law enforcement's claims against Netanyahu on Twitter. However, this particular accusation was made privately in a conversation with a reporter, which law enforcement later gained access to and only provided to Netanyahu's defense team last week.
Netanyahu's lawyers framed this as strong additional evidence to undermine any accusations Filber later made and to argue that the court must order the prosecution to reveal all documents it calls irrelevant.
The prosecution says that what Filber said in private conversations before he turned state's witness is less relevant than his testimony to police where he explains why he changed his tune. Nonetheless, they said that they went above and beyond by providing a transcript of this communication.
Also on Sunday, Jacques Chen, the lawyer for Bezeq and Walla owner and Netanyahu co-defendant Shaul Elovitch, attacked the police for alleged mistreatment of former top Netanyahu aide and state witness Nir Hefetz. Chen recounted the allegations that the state tried to cruelly extort Hefetz into turning against the prime minister by confronting him with a woman he was romantically connected to, who was not his wife.
Chen said the state is being hypocritical by refusing to turn over all documents regarding how the woman was used against Hefetz, arguing this would invade her privacy. He said the state cannot accuse him of invading her privacy when it was the state which cruelly dragged her into the case in the first place.
For example, he said that the police pretended to want to search her home and got a court order to do so in order to bring her to the police station to pressure Hefetz when they had no intention nor any need to search her house.
The events transpired on Sunday during the third hearing of Netanyahu's trial for alleged public corruption. The three judges hearing the case are Rivkah Friedman-Feldman, Oded Shaham and Moshe Bar’am.
At stake on Sunday are a number of major issues relating to the case’s critical state’s witnesses, some of whom the sides have been battling over since May and could shape the course of the trial, with witnesses due to be called in January.
They are also expected to take up the mid-September defense claim that the police had probed Netanyahu in Case 2000, the "Yediyot Aharonot/Yisrael Hayom Affair," before they were given legal authorization to do so by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
The prime minister’s lawyers, Boaz Ben Tzur and Amit Hadad, hope that this line of attack and others could lead to disqualifying large portions of the case against their client.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of involvement in an attempted media bribery scheme which never panned out.