Former state attorney Moshe Lador criticized the justices who told prosecutors to retract the bribery charge in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Case 4000 corruption trial, saying that they committed "a serious and unprecedented error."
“It is possible to present such a difficulty within the hearing after all the witnesses have been heard. The justice, at most, randomly heard a series of witnesses and were able to receive a temporary impression, when they didn’t have the full picture,” said Lador at a “ShabaTarbut” event in Beersheba on Saturday.
“What did they think when they said ‘this is a closed meeting and we’re asking not to publicize it,’ that it wouldn’t within minutes be brought before Netanyahu? It was really a terrorist attack, that’s not how you handle a case, certainly not such an important case,” added Lador. “They gave a sort of public ruling, which in some ways forces them to act accordingly.”
Lador added that he doesn’t see a way for Netanyahu to be acquitted in Case 4000. “I don’t believe they even wrote for themselves some form of opinion.”
"From my acquaintance with a portion of the materials placed before them, the theory on which the indictment was filed, there is no legal option in my view to acquit, even if the changes that [state witness Shlomo] Filber and others made, even if they consider some of the errors that occurred," stressed Lador.
The former state attorney claimed that even if Netanyahu did not do any explicit action for Shaul Elovitch, the former owner of Walla news, if Elovitch bribed Netanyahu by telling him “decide for [Walla] through your main emissary, Nir Hefetz, what you want written for your good, against your rivals, for the good of parts of your family, etc. I am giving you the ability to do so,” then Netanyahu must have known that Elovitch wanted certain favors.
“The crime of receiving a bribe does not require in any way that the person who received the bribe act for the benefit of the person who gave the bribe,” stressed Lador.
Lador additionally claimed that there was an “excessive motivation” to “moderate, weaken, [and] soften the investigation and the charges.” The former state attorney added that former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit was focused on softening the charges in the case, stating that Mandelblit was in “close contact” with Netanyahu and had “similar world views.”
“He had no interest to hurt Netanyahu in any way,” said Lador.
When asked if he thinks the case needs to end quickly “for the good of the state,” Lador stated that he thinks “exactly the opposite,” adding that the justices shouldn’t be considering that issue. “They’ve bragged for years that the winds blowing outside the world of the hearings don’t affect them. They’re not politicians.”
Lador stated that it could be that the length of the trial could have influenced the justices to aim for a plea deal to be reached because they believe that this will cause the public to focus on the deal and not on the issues with the handling of the case. The former state attorney added that it could be that they aren’t prepared to be the ones to decide on such an important case, as they fear the response from the public.
The former state attorney stressed that he is not against plea deals as a whole, but believes that such a deal needs to be written in such a way that it won't be "taken advantage of for bad purposes."
In a June 20 meeting between the justices, defense, and prosecution, the justices told the state that it would have difficulties in proving the bribery charge, but the State Attorney’s Office said that it saw the situation differently and further evidence would prove the case.
The prosecution said a bigger picture would be created when the defense presented its case.
While it was initially leaked that the court had said that the bribery charge needed to be dropped for “the good of the state,” the summary claimed that it had been said about the trial needing to end regardless of the outcome.
Elovitch's lawyer rejects Lador's condemnation
Elovitch’s attorney Jacques Chen responded to Lador’s statements on Saturday, stating “Lador, who has not been in office for many years, speaks in the language of ‘we.’ Who is ‘we,’ what does he know, recognize and understand?” according to Walla.
“His words and the wild attack on the court are shameful,” added Chen. “And the ignorance, oh the ignorance – the case of the prosecution in Case 4000 is almost completely finished. According to the prosecution itself, marginal witnesses remain who will testify to variations on the same theme.
“Simply the demagoguery of another one who became hysterical because the world of lies and thought engineering, the fruit of many years of work, is shattering before his eyes. Shameful. And now, close your eyes and try to imagine, honestly, what would happen if the situation were the other way around and the court turned to the defense and put her in her plight. Would Lador and his friends have raised their eyebrows and criticized the court? Even a tweet?”
Michael Starr contributed to this report.