Netanyahu trial

Prosecutors ask court to declare Netanyahu’s former bureau chief a hostile witness

‘I’ve been attacked and harassed,’ David Sharan tells court, referring to police questioning, before being put on stand by prosecution or defense; court considering his request

David Sharan arrives to testify in the trial against former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
David Sharan arrives to testify in the trial against former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The prosecution in the corruption trial of presumed incoming premier Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Jerusalem District Court Tuesday to have a key prosecution witness declared hostile after he harshly criticized prosecutors and police interrogators in his opening remarks.

“I feel threatened,” Netanyahu’s former bureau chief David Sharan told the court.

“I’ve been attacked and harassed,” he stated, before being asked any questions by the prosecution or the defense.

The three-judge panel was considering the request, reports said.

Sharan was testifying in the so-called Case 4000, in which Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Prosecutors in the case allege that Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time, approved regulatory decisions benefiting controlling Bezeq shareholder Shaul Elovitch to the tune of hundreds of millions of shekels. In exchange, he is suspected of receiving positive media coverage from the Bezeq-owned Walla news site.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated in a political coup led by the police and state prosecution.

Presumed incoming prime minister MK Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the District Court in Jerusalem on May 17, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Netanyahu is also on trial in two other cases known as Case 1000 and Case 2000.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Sharan referred to his previous interrogations surrounding a separate case dubbed Case 3000, also known as the submarine affair, which has ensnared several close associates of Netanyahu — including Sharan — but not the former premier himself. This case involves alleged corruption in the purchase of three submarines and other naval vessels from German ship maker Thyssenkrupp.

“The same prosecuting unit had filed an indictment against me in Case 3000,” he said. “When I came to prepare for my testimony [in Case 4000] last week, surprisingly the first person I met was my former prosecutor in Case 3000,” he added, implying that the meeting was deliberate and meant as a threat.

Sharan also attacked the police unit in charge of the investigations, the Lahav 433 serious crimes police department.

“That unit made sure that I would be fired from my previous place of employment so I would not be able to defend myself,” he charged. “My rights have been trampled by that unit. They harassed me outside of court.”

He continued: “My mother was rushed to the Lahav 433 headquarters. They foreclosed her bank account and she was forced to spend the weekend asking for money because for some reason they also decided to place my wife under house arrest. They told me: ‘If you want to see your wife, don’t have high expectations. We’ve got her now.'”

Sharan said he was unable to remain calm giving testimony “when the executioner hovers above me.”

Later, when asked by prosecutors about his involvement in Case 4000, Sharan denied he ever had a conversation about Bezeq with Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu told me: ‘I have a problem with Bezeq.’ I told him I knew and that we were taking care of it. To call that a conversation? When the prime minister says something about the biggest company in the country, I don’t think that’s a conversation,” Sharan said.

When asked whether or not he considered the issue to be important at the time, Sharan said he did not.

“I didn’t think it was important because he didn’t follow up with me. When the prime minister wants something he will ask for an update after a few hours and I never got such a call.”

David Sharan arrives to testify in the trial against former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Sharan is the third witness that the prosecution has sought to have declared a hostile witness.

Last week, prosecutors asked the court to consider Yifat Ben Hai Segev, who served as head of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, as a hostile witness after she said police investigators tried to intimidate her and said that some of her statements to officers were deceitfully extracted and taken out of context.

Previously, the prosecution asked the court to treat state witness Shlomo Filber as a hostile witness after he seemed to give contradicting testimonies.

In both cases, the court rejected the requests but allowed the prosecutors to cross-examine the witnesses.

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