Court Rejects Request of Prosecution for Amending Netanyahu’s Indictment
On Tuesday, the judges presiding in the criminal trial of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the prosecutor’s request of making amendments to the indictment in one of the graft cases against him. According to the judges, the ability and rights of the defendant in conducting their defense could be harmed due to the amendment. The Office of the State Attorney wanted to get the indictment changed in Case 4,000 after the testimony of a former confidant of Netanyahu. ShlomoFilberwas a witness for the state, but the testimony came off as self-contradictory.
According to the accusations made against Netanyahu, he gave lucrative benefits to Bezeq telecoms’ controlling shareholder at that time, ShaulElovitch. This was done for getting positive coverage from the news site Walla that is owned by Bezeq. A meeting had been held in which Filber had been allegedly instructed by the former prime minister to take actions for benefiting Elovitch. The current indictment states that the meeting was held after Filber had been appointed as the Communications Ministry’s director-general and they want it changed to say that Netanyahu had decided on Filber’s appointment after the meeting had taken place. The prosecutors said that the allegations about the meeting’s context remain unchanged, even after Filber’s testimony.
He said in his testimony that a hand gesture made by Netanyahu could have been misinterpreted by him and was also unsure of when the meeting was conducted. The judges denied the request of the prosecution also because they said that the trial had already progressed significantly and that cross-examination of Filber had already begun. Lawyer Micha Fettman, who had Netanyahu as a client previously, said that the decision of the judges was a good one for the defense and showcased the prosecution’s failure. He noted that the prosecution had made an error in the indictment, as they had not specified the timing of the meeting and had been vague about it.
However, the lawyer said that the court had decided not to allow the amendment of the indictment at ‘this stage’ of the trial because the legal code gives some leeway. The Criminal Procedure Law has Clause 184, which states that a conviction can be made by the courts on the basis of facts that may not be part of the indictment. Filber had made a number of hairpin turns when he took the stand and he undermined his own testimony when he was cross-examined.
The prosecution had become frustrated because of his changing recollections, as they were depending on his testimony for Case 4,000. There have been three cases filed against the ex-premier and this is the most serious one. He is facing charges of breach of trust, fraud and bribery. A bribery charge has also been levied against Elovitch and Iris, his wife, who has denied any wrongdoing. There are two other corruption cases against Netanyahu, which are Case 1000 and Case 2000. According to the former premier, the state prosecution and the police have fabricated these charges to lead a political coup against him.