Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben Ari says that Arnon Milchan, a key witness in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, told her he feels uncomfortable with the presence of Netanyahu’s wife Sara in the hall where he is testifying in the Old Sea Hotel in Brighton, UK.
“This morning when I and Attorney [Alon] Gildin entered the hall the witness turned to us and asked to tell us that he feels very uncomfortable with the situation that has been created in which Mrs. Netanyahu is sitting in the hall and the prime minister is in [the Jerusalem District Court room] in Jerusalem,” Hebrew media reported on the seventh day of Milchan’s testimony.
“The witness feels very uncomfortable and asks that the court understand his feelings — these are his words. I asked him to tell the court and he asked us to say it [instead],” says Ben Ari.
Sara Netanyahu has flown out to the UK for Milchan’s testimony and has been present every day in the conference room in the Brighton hotel where Milchan is testifying. He did not come to court in Israel due to health problems.
Last week, Ben Ari accused Sara of communicating through gestures and expressions with Milchan during his testimony and also objected to an incident last Wednesday when she embraced and briefly spoke with Milchan in the hall before his testimony began.
Presiding Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman implicitly reprimanded the prime minister’s wife following that incident, saying anyone involved in the case should have no contact with Milchan during his testimony.
Netanyahu’s defense attorney Amit Hadad objects strenuously to Ben Ari’s comments, and says it is “illegitimate” for the prosecutors to speak with the witness, adding, “I asked the witness if he is requesting that Mrs. Netanyahu leave the room and he said no.”