In 10th interrogation, police grill Netanyahu about Bezeq case

In 10th interrogation, police grill Netanyahu about Bezeq case

Company's controlling shareholder Elovitch also expected to be questioned; Hollywood producer Milchan reportedly to be probed in Case 2000

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Police investigators arrive at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on July 10, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police investigators arrive at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on July 10, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced police interrogators Tuesday morning for the 10th time as part of a series of corruption probes against him, answering questions over the Bezeq graft investigation.

The probe, known as Case 4000, involves suspicions that Netanyahu, who has also served as communications minister for several years over his past two terms as prime minster, advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in exchange for flattering coverage of the Netanyahus from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, who has also been linked to the case, have denied any wrongdoing.

Teams of investigators arrived at the Prime Minster’s Residence in Jerusalem shortly after 10 a.m. for the interrogation session, which was expected to last well into the afternoon. The Prime Minister’s Office declined to say whether Netanyahu had any public or private engagements planned for the rest of the day. None were publicized.

As police entered the the residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, a small group of protesters outside of the building held up a huge banner reading “Crime minister.”

Protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence hold a sign reading “Crime Minister’ as police investigators arrive to question Benjamin Netanyahu, July 10, 2018.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Elovitch was also expected to be questioned at the same time as Netanyahu. Sara Netanyahu and the couple’s son Yair have both been questioned  previously in the case but will not face interrogators on Tuesday.

The interrogation was reportedly to cover audio recordings handed over by state witness Nir Hefetz, a former senior aide to the prime minister, with Netanyahu being asked to respond to testimony given against him by a number of other key witnesses.

Evidence provided to police by Hefetz reportedly shows that mutually beneficial actions by Netanyahu and Elovitch were not incidental; rather, both parties were fully aware that they were acting as part of an illicit quid pro quo deal.

The interrogation was Netanyahu’s fourth in the case and his 10th overall since the beginning of 2017, when police first questioned him regarding other corruption suspicions.

The state prosecution is currently considering whether to indict the prime minister in two other corruption probes, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000, after police in February recommended putting Netanyahu on trial in both.

Former media adviser to the prime minister Nir Hefetz arrives for a remand hearing in Case 4000 at the Tel Aviv District Court, February 22, 2018 (Flash90)

Hefetz, a former media adviser to the Netanyahu family, is the third confidant of the premier to turn state’s witness in the various cases against him, joining former Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber and former chief of staff Ari Harow.

Hefetz is said to have provided officials with further evidence in Cases 1000 and 2000 as well.

In Case 1000, in which Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, Hefetz reportedly provided investigators with names of additional patrons of the couple, seemingly strengthening the case that their alleged misdeeds were part of a pattern.

In Case 2000, which involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes, Hefetz was said to have provided names of additional figures involved in the conversations between the two.

Police are planning to interrogate Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in relation to Case 2000 as new information has come to light that the movie mogul allegedly mediated between Netanyahu and Mozes in 2009, the Kan public broadcaster reported Monday. Milchan is also a central figure in Case 1000.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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