Netanyahu must attend December 6 hearing

Prosecution rejects Elovitch claims of witness tampering in PM case.

Israeli businessman, Shaul Elovitch leaving the District Court in Jerusalem, July 19, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Israeli businessman, Shaul Elovitch leaving the District Court in Jerusalem, July 19, 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must physically attend the next pretrial hearing in his case, set for December 6, to formally respond to the allegations against him, the Jerusalem District Court announced Sunday.
Netanyahu had to physically attend the first hearing on May 24, but he was exempt from attending the second hearing on July 19.
Earlier Sunday, the state prosecution rejected the claims of witness tampering and concealing evidence alleged against them by the lawyers of the Elovitch family in the bribery case involving Netanyahu.
On July 19, Iris Elovitch’s lawyer, Michal Rozin, raised with the court the issue of whether the police may have infringed on the rights of her husband, defendant Shaul Elovitch, and their son, Or Elovitch.
Shaul Elovitch is at the heart of Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, since he owned Bezeq, which Netanyahu allegedly purposely favored in setting communications policy in exchange for more positive media coverage from the Walla news site, which Shaul Elovitch also owned.
Shaul Elovitch’s wife and son were allegedly involved with this media bribery scheme, with his wife also being a defendant in the case with Netanyahu. Their son is a defendant in a separate but related corruption case that is expected to be tried in Tel Aviv District Court.
Last September, Channel 12 reported there was a police recording of Shaul and Or Elovitch speaking about the possibility of switching lawyers.
Channel 12 implied the police had pressured Or into trying to get Shaul to switch lawyers so that he would agree to turn state’s witness against Netanyahu.
Furthermore, the Elovitches’ attorney-client privileges might have been violated by their being recorded, Channel 12 implied.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit responded at the time that Or Elovitch’s idea about switching lawyers was his own and not planted by the police.
Last week, Rozin said, based on a review of the transcript of the recording, it appeared that the police may have misled Mandelblit about how they pressured Or.
She also alleged that a written transcript of the interrogation of Or was missing key portions, which she found only on the audio recording, and that this showed an attempt by the prosecution to hide the interrogator’s violations.
In contrast, on Sunday, Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari and Securities Crimes Division Director Yehudit Tirosh backed Mandelblit’s conclusion unequivocally that Or was the party who raised the idea.
The Jerusalem Post previously reported that the prosecution team submitted an internal legal brief to Mandelblit to that effect.
Further, the Post reported that, although Mandelblit himself would not have listened to the recording, the prosecution team would have listened to it in its entirety and did not merely rely on the police account.
The Post also understands that once Or raised the idea, the policewoman interrogating him did encourage him to cooperate with the probe and potentially become a state’s witness, but she did not make any push for the Elovitch family to change lawyers.
However, as mind-boggling as it might seem for Or to have raised all sorts of scenarios on his own, the police can legally tell suspects that if they do not cooperate and switch sides, they will face charges and jail time.
Sometimes this is enough for a suspect such as Or to toss out all sorts of possibilities.
Mandelblit has said the Elovitches were recorded while they were under arrest, and that during this period, they did not have a specific right to privacy for their conversations.
Finally, Mandelblit has said that at no time was the attorney-client privilege violated, as no conversations with actual lawyers were recorded, only conversations by the Elovitch family members about their lawyers.
Despite these justifications, the attorney-general did leave open the possibility of some kind of police wrongdoing. But the Post’s impression is that to date, the review performed of the incident has not led to any findings of misconduct against the police.
Ben-Ari and Tirosh’s letter further rejected any notion of concealing anything from the defendants’ lawyers.
Rather, they noted that Rozin found the inconsistencies between the audio recording and the transcript precisely because the prosecution provided both items to her in full.
The prosecutors added that there were many mundane gaps in the written transcript – not only the juicier ones noted by Rozin – and that it is standard for private-sector services that convert audio interrogations to written transcripts to sometimes note that they had trouble hearing or understanding certain sections with a notation of three dots, as was done in this case.
This, then, is a sign to defense lawyers to listen more carefully to the audio recording that they may understand better, since they are more familiar with the case than a random transcript transcriber.

Tags Case 4000