Netanyahu trials: Nir Hefetz expected to testify against Netanyahu

Nir Hefetz, a star witness for the state prosecutor’s office and former senior assistant to Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to begin his testimony in Jerusalem’s district court on Tuesday against the former prime minister.

Netanyahu himself is expected to attend the hearing, which would be the first time he has attended since April.

Some call Hefetz the most critical witness in the entire trial because he is one of only two witnesses who can directly point to Netanyahu on media bribery charges for the all-important Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla case.

However, the other witness, another former Netanyahu senior aide, Shlomo Filber, will primarily provide a narrative only on the Communications Ministry side of the matter, while Hefetz can connect the dots on both the ministry side and the media side. of Walla.

There was a last-minute twist on Monday afternoon in which the defense asked the court to postpone Hefetz’s testimony a week after the prosecution revealed that it had compiled a surprising new testimony from the 1000 case witness, Hadas Klein.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the courtroom after a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court this week. (credit: OPEN SULTAN / POOL)

The prosecution said that Klein approached them in mid-October with new evidence against Netanyahu, which according to various media reports was related to jewelry worth tens of thousands of shekels that Sara Netanyahu requested from Klein’s boss, billionaire Arnon. Milchan and billionaire James Packer.

Netanyahu’s spokesman rejected the new allegations as inaccurate and also pointed to a motion his lawyers filed in court against the prosecution and law enforcement for alleged improper leaks to the media.

Because Klein’s testimony relates to the illegal gifts issue (Case 1000) and not Case 4000, it is possible that the court would proceed with Hefetz as planned, but the justices said they would give the defense the defense. opportunity to argue the matter Tuesday morning.

Assuming his testimony begins Tuesday, simply put, Hefetz is expected to testify that Netanyahu gave him dozens of orders over several years in 2013-2016 to order former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua to run the coverage as he wanted the former prime minister. In addition, he will say that Netanyahu gave him orders to ensure that the Communications Ministry policy benefited Bezeq and Walla’s owner Shaul Elovitch.

According to the amended indictment, from January 17 to 19, 2013, days before the January 22, 2013 elections, Netanyahu, through intermediary Zeev Rubinstein, made no fewer than six demands for Elovitch to influence coverage of the means in a positive way for him and in a negative relationship with Naftali. Bennett and the Bayit Yehudi Party.

In March 2014, Hefetz, Sara Netanyahu, and the former prime minister himself became much more personally involved in transmitting messages.

While there have been many important witnesses to date, especially Yeshua and the former Director General of the Ministry of Communications, Avi Berger, Hefetz was closer to the prime minister than any of them.

Hefetz served for years not only as a spokesperson for Netanyahu, but often as a go-between for complex tasks and clean-ups in gray areas, including dealing with sensitive issues related to Sara.

Until February 2018, Hefetz maintained his and Netanyahu’s innocence.

However, once he was arrested, detained and pressured on a variety of fronts, including regarding an alleged romantic connection with a third woman who was not his wife (whose identity is under gag order), he accepted a plea deal. to testify against Netanyahu in exchange for immunity.

Netanyahu has attacked Hefetz as a traitor who cannot be trusted and simply parroted what the prosecution asked him to save his own skin.

There have been heated debates between the prosecution and the defense about how Hefetz was questioned and whether the defense can pierce a gag order by pressuring the police regarding the alleged romantic connection.

The stress this problem caused Hefetz was so acute that, in November 2019, he yelled at the judges: “You can kill me!” during a hearing on whether to remove the gag order.

Hefetz stomped through the corridors of the courtroom trying to flee a wave of media attention, his face filled with anger and despair.

The prosecution has said that even if there are problems with some aspects of Hefetz’s testimony, there is tremendous supporting evidence and that he is an irreplaceable witness for linking all the different aspects of the case.

As of mid-September 2020, the prosecution had denied having documents related to the conflict within the Police Investigation Department (PID) on how Hefetz had been treated during his interrogation.

Later, after Channel 12’s Amit Segal revealed one of those documents, the prosecution took a 180-degree turn and said that bad good faith communications within the PID had led the document astray.

Essentially, former senior PID official Dubi Shertzer has claimed that he complained to his superiors at PID about alleged abusive treatment of Hefetz by police investigators.

Segal then claimed that PID or the prosecution or some combination of them covered up the complaint and did not disclose the complaint to defense attorneys until Segal released the story in mid-September.

The subsequent bizarre explanation from the prosecution as to why he thought he did not have the document could be trying to cover up the PID or simply due to incompetence or as a result of interpersonal rivalries.

Shertzer and then-PID deputy director Moshe Saada are known to be on bad terms with PID chief Karen Ben Menachem.

After all this, the prosecution told the court that almost all of the information under the gag order had nothing to do with Netanyahu and that the parties who wanted the information only sought it out to intimidate Hefetz into not testifying.

The Jerusalem Post He learned from sources with direct knowledge that the police did not bring in the third party for the primary purpose of pressuring Hefetz to become a witness for the state. Instead, the person was taken to the police station in the same way that Hefetz’s wife was taken there, as part of standard police tactics to learn everything relevant about a suspect.

Police intelligence on the third party suggested that he may possess relevant electronic evidence about Hefetz and Case 4000.

The charge He also learned that there was a signed court order to search the person’s residence.

Police will have to admit at trial, the Post understands, that once the third was at the police station, he instigated a kind of confrontation between that person and Hefetz.

However, your narrative will be that this was legal to try to get Hefetz to admit the truth, even if it was unpleasant for Hefetz.

In addition, they will note that Hefetz waited another two weeks after the confrontation with the third before deciding to become a state witness.

Finally, law enforcement officials would point out that Netanyahu’s top aide has said that when he became a state witness it was not for this third party, but essentially to avoid jail time.

Hefetz is expected to testify that a few days before a major November 28, 2014 meeting between Netanyahu and Elovitch, he showed off the former prime minister’s proposals that Elovitch gave Hefetz. Elovitch wanted to gut the conditions of the director general of the Ministry of Communications, Berger, to approve the Yes-Bezeq merger, which Elovitch desperately wanted.

Next, Hefetz will likely testify that Netanyahu requested that he carefully hand Elovitch into the meeting with him in a way that covered up that they had met.

Both Hefetz and the former Director General of the Communications Ministry turned state witness, Shlomo Filber, will likely testify that on December 9, 2014, Netanyahu appointed Eitan Tzafrir as Communications Ministry chief of staff to act as his long arm.

Berger has testified that he repeatedly stood firm on the conditions for a Yes-Bezeq merger and ignored Tzafrir, who said he advocated problematic policies.

Several witnesses are expected to testify that this enraged Elovitch, and he asked Hefetz to pass it on to the prime minister.

Following Hefetz’s transmission to Netanyahu, the prosecution alleged that on May 17, 2015, as soon as Netanyahu formed a new government, he fired Berger and replaced him with Filber to fulfill Elovitch’s wishes regarding Bezeq.

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