Published On: Sun, Jul 19th, 2020

Crime Minister? Netanyahu Trial to start January, required to appear in court 3 times a week

Netanyahu's defense attorney asked to postpone the hearings because of the coronavirus: "It is difficult to interrogate with a mask."

Benjamin Netanyahu makes a history. For the first time, a sitting prime minister will appear in court for crimes in three cases named 1000, 2000, and 4000 which including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Two of Netanyahu’s co-defendants are Arnon (Noni) Mozes (case 2000) and Shaul Elovitch (case 4000)

Judge Rivkah Friedman Feldman who heads the panel of judges in Netanyahu’s trial announced the date to the court in Jerusalem Sunday morning. Netanyahu, and witnesses required to appear to the trial three times a week.

The trial schedule would have a tremendous impact on Netanyahu’s transfer of power to Benny Gantz of Blue and White in November 2021. Netanyahu’s status after that transfer is not clear.

Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari criticizes the procrastination of Netanyahu’s defense: “Two months have passed, on the part of Defendant 1 (Netanyahu), we do not see any movement to set dates for hearings and evidence.”

“I think”, she said, “the court should give its opinion on this matter. I would like to say that everything related to negotiations with state witnesses has been transferred to the defense attorneys, all that is confidential the defense attorneys are invited to file a petition to disclose confidential evidence.”

Ben-Ari added “the method of representation is something that needs to be considered. I mention Adv. Amit Haddad has been in the case since day one, the prime minister wants to tighten his defense. It’s not that he has no defense. ”

“On the coverage of the trial in the media,” she claimed, “we announced immediately after the reading hearing to all the witnesses that they are not allowed to be in contact with media people, or to be interviewed.”

Regarding the following discussions, she noted: “The time has come to make every effort so that we can begin this trial.”

Attorney Yossi Segev, Netanyahu’s attorney, said that he has only been hired for one hearing.

Judge Friedman Feldman said it was impossible to hold a trial if Netanyahu’s lawyers continued to complain about whether they were being paid as opposed to committing to the case. Segev said he hopes to work out the payment issue with Netanyahu soon.

Attorney Segev argues that the conduct of the investigation justifies dismissing the indictment: “As I learned from the attorneys before me, the conduct we have seen justifies obtaining protection from justice to the point of dismissing the indictment immediately. Apart from the preliminary allegations, there are investigative materials that have not been provided to us.”

Advocate Segev presented Netanyahu’s position and asked to delay the hearings due to the coronavirus plague: “This case was forced on the prime minister during his work as a public servant. We are not yet ready to establish evidence. Let’s start with Coronavirus: I can not interrogate witnesses while the witness is sitting with a mask. How can I cross-examine when I’m standing with a mask, the witness with a mask, and judges with a mask. I can not see if you are happy or angry?”

Judge: Sir offers to close the doors of the court for the next few months?

Adv. Segev: “No. I come here today when I’m not ready. I suggest we come back here in another six months, after the coronavirus crises, then we will be smarter. ”

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing, painting the accusations as a witch-hunt pursued by media- and a biased law enforcement system.
The trial began in May. Netanyahu these days faces widespread discontent over his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Israelis have been increasingly taking to the streets to demand his resignation.

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