Prosectors in former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial asked the court on Sunday to amend a section in the indictments of Case 4000, following last week’s seemingly self-contradicting testimony by state witness Shlomo Filber.
Asked by Netanyahu’s lawyers last week about a specific meeting with the current opposition leader upon beginning his role as director of the Communications Ministry, Filber said he might have misinterpreted a hand gesture made by the former premier.
Evidence from Filber, a close Netanyahu aide who turned state witness, is an essential element of the prosecution’s case in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is accused of providing immensely lucrative benefits to Shaul Elovitch, then-owner of Bezeq and the Walla news site, in exchange for favorable coverage.
During an early investigation carried out by the Securities Authority in 2017, Filber said he understood the gesture as meaning “drop the whole thing,” in the sense of “tell Elovitch we can’t help him.”
However, later when being questioned by police, Filber told them he understood the gesture as “moderately lower prices,” which is what the prosecution claims Elovitch had asked Filber to do in order to limit competition with other communications companies.
Filber then testified Wednesday morning that his original testimony given to the Securities Authority might be correct, noting that it was a matter of “interpretation.”
In its request to the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday, prosecutors asked to change section 64 in the indictment, which deals with the alleged meeting.
The prosecution requested that the charges state that the alleged meeting was held “after defendant Netanyahu decided on Filber’s appointment,” and not after he had already been appointed.
“What is stated in the indictment regarding the content of the meeting, which was called the ‘facilitation meeting,’ remains, although it is necessary to specify the date of its existence, hence the request,” the prosecution wrote in the request.
Case 4000 is considered the most serious of the three cases against the former prime minister.
Netanyahu is alleged to have advanced regulatory decisions as communications minister and prime minister that immensely benefited Bezeq — the country’s largest telecommunications firm — and its owner Elovitch, despite opposition from Communication Ministry officials. In exchange, he allegedly was given what amounted to editorial control over Elovitch’s Walla news site.
Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated in a political coup led by the police and state prosecution.