Court orders recalcitrant submarine witness Ganor held for 5 more days
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Court orders recalcitrant submarine witness Ganor held for 5 more days

Judge rules release of states witness, now reportedly refusing to cooperate with graft case, would raise concerns of obstruction to investigation

Israeli businessman Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as 'Case 3000,' is brought for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli businessman Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as 'Case 3000,' is brought for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A magistrate on Sunday ordered that Miki Ganor remain in custody for another five days, after the state’s witness in a high-profile corruption case was arrested last week, once he requested to change his testimony.

“The concern of obstructing an investigation has become stronger and even expanded to additional areas,” declared Judge Einat Ron of the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

Ganor will remain in custody until Thursday.

On Friday, Supreme Court Judge Menachem Mazuz overturned an earlier decision by the Lod District Court to release Ganor to house arrest.

Ganor was arrested last Tuesday after informing police of his intention to retract testimony he gave during the investigation into corruption suspicions surrounding the purchase of submarines from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp, for Israel’s navy. He said his confessions to bribing multiple officials had been given under duress and were not true.

Following his request to change his testimony, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court agreed on Wednesday that suspicions leveled against Ganor — of obstructing an investigation, bribery, fraud and money laundering — should be re-investigated in light of his new version of events.

On Thursday, prosecutors said a plea agreement struck with Ganor last year could be rescinded after he recanted his testimony.

The next day, Channel 12 TV news reported that Ganor was refusing to cooperate with investigators and maintaining his silence.

A Justice Ministry statement last week said that by amending his testimony to police, Ganor has “violated the agreement and therefore the state is entitled to cancel the deal.”

An Israeli submarine sails during Independence Day celebrations marking 70 years since the founding of the state in 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 19, 2018. (AP/Ariel Schalit/File)

A former agent in Israel for German shipbuilding company Thyssenkrupp, Ganor signed an agreement with prosecutors in July 2017 to cooperate in the probe, which focused on the period he worked for the company between 2009 and 2017. He has admitted to bribing a string of senior officials in order to help secure contracts for Thyssenkrupp with Israel’s Defense Ministry.

Police laid out the details of the case when they concluded the investigation in November 2018 and handed the case to prosecutors with the recommendation that numerous indictments be brought against senior figures in the Israeli defense elite, as well as several close confidants of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was questioned as a witness in the case and was not considered a suspect, though new questions regarding his involvement were raised this week, prompting calls for an investigation.

For Ganor’s role in aiding the police investigation, prosecutors agreed to set aside the major corruption charges against him and settle for a punishment only for his tax offenses in the case. The punishment included a 12-month prison sentence and a fine of NIS 10 million (roughly $2.7 million).

His change of heart came shortly after reports emerged that Netanyahu had profited handsomely from the unreported sale of stock in a company that supplied services to Thyssenkrupp.

Netanyahu has called allegations of impropriety on his part “contrived slander,” saying he “didn’t get a shekel from the submarine deal” and that the matter was “checked extensively by the prosecution and the attorney general, who stated unequivocally that I am not suspected of anything.”

Prosecutors are reportedly considering opening a new investigation into Netanyahu’s business dealings, though they will not necessarily revolve around the submarine deal.

On Sunday, Thyssenkrupp said in statement that GrafTech International was not involved in the sale of submarines to Israel.

Netanyahu is facing indictments, pending a hearing, in three other corruption cases. He has denied any wrongdoing in those cases.

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