Prosecutors ordered to turn over docs on police tactics in Netanyahu graft case
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Prosecutors ordered to turn over docs on police tactics in Netanyahu graft case

Judges indicate defense was given incomplete materials, give prosecution until September 1 to hand over any files on alleged effort to pressure Shaul Elovitch to switch lawyers

Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari (2nd-L) and Shaul Elovtich (2nd-R) at the Jerusalem District Court for a hearing in the criminal cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 19, 2020. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari (2nd-L) and Shaul Elovtich (2nd-R) at the Jerusalem District Court for a hearing in the criminal cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 19, 2020. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Judges overseeing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on graft charges ordered prosecutors on Monday to turn over any documents concerning an alleged police attempt to pressure another defendant in the case into dismissing his lawyer.

A report aired late last year by Channel 12 indicated that police had employed questionable methods to get Or Elovitch, the son of Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch, to try to pressure his father into turning state’s witness.

The Jerusalem District Court indicated there were problematic differences between recordings of conversations and the transcripts handed over to the defense, and demanded that prosecutors answer for those discrepancies.

The court has given prosecutors until September 1 to respond whether they have an amended, true-to-life transcript of the police interrogation of Or Elovitch. If there is such a transcript, prosecutors were instructed to explain when they became aware of its existence and why it wasn’t turned over to the defense. The judges also told prosecutors to explain any difference between the recording of the interrogation and the transcript that was given to Elovitch’s lawyers.

Shaul Elovitch and his wife Iris each face bribery charges in Case 4000, which involves suspicions Netanyahu offered regulatory benefits to Elovitch in exchange for positive coverage of him and his family from the Bezeq-owned Walla news site.

Shaul Elovitch arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing in Case 4000, February 26, 2018. (Flash90)

Last year, Channel 12 reported that Shaul Elovitch, who was put in custody twice as part of the Case 4000 investigation, was once held at a detention facility that had a room designated for detainees to speak freely with their attorneys, without police listening in. However, bugs were said to have been installed in that room as Elovitch’s son was sent in as a police tactic in the effort to reach a state witness deal.

Police investigators had believed attorney Jack Chen — who provided legal advice to Netanyahu in two other cases against him, known as Cases 1000 and 2000 — was preventing Elovitch from agreeing to testify against the premier and turning state witness, according to the Channel 12 report.

They decided to use his son, Or — who had also been detained by police on suspicion of being involved in the case — in an attempt to get him to switch lawyers.

The TV report included transcripts from a recording from the room, in which an investigator speaks with the young Elovitch before the father enters.

“I don’t want him to interpret this as me collaborating with you,” Or Elovitch tells the investigator. “He’s paranoid.”

The investigator answers that “this is a lawyer consultation room. There are no more golden opportunities like this, this is your chance.”

She then leaves the room and Shaul Elovitch enters.

Or Elovitch tells his father: “They are giving me the impression that you have something that can get me out. I understand that Jack [Chen] has a problem.”

Shaul Elovitch answers: “I can consult a hundred more lawyers and it won’t change. They tried to turn me into a state witness. They’ve killed me. I need to lie in order to be a state witness because I have nothing to testify about. They are currently trying to get me to confess, confess, confess.”

Iris Elovitch at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Following the report last year, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit adamantly denied to the head of the Israel Bar Association that police pressured state’s witnesses to lie.

Netanyahu appeared at the Jerusalem District Court in May for the start of his trial, making him the first sitting Israeli premier to stand trial on criminal charges.

The prime minister, who faces charges of bribery, fraud and beach of trust, has denied wrongdoing and claimed the indictment against him was an effort by the media, political rivals, law enforcement and prosecutors to force him from office.

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