Sara Netanyahu’s attorneys demand probe of police leaks

Lawyers say partial transcripts released in media from recent questioning of premier’s wife were ‘false, distorted’

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attends a court hearing in Jerusalem, on May 10, 2015 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attends a court hearing in Jerusalem, on May 10, 2015 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)

Attorneys representing Sara Netanyahu filed a complaint with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and police after partial transcripts from Mrs. Netanyahu’s questioning by police on Thursday were broadcast on Channel 2 News on Friday night.

Lawyers Yossi Cohen and Amit Hadad claimed that the protocols were “forged” and that “lies” were leaked to the press in an attempt to obstruct justice. They demanded an internal probe of the leaks.

The protocols, Cohen and Hadad said, were a “false, distorted and twisted portrayal” of Netanyahu’s questioning which “put words in her mouth that she never uttered.”

Mrs. Netanyahu is accused of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents and breach of trust. Two of the cases involve her allegedly using state money to order food for personal use, and a third case involves using public funds to pay for a caretaker for her elderly father.

The transcripts broadcast on Channel 2 related mostly to the last matter, in which Mrs. Netanyahu denied any wrongdoing to an investigator, saying she had no knowledge of state funds being used to pay the caretaker.

Mrs. Netanyahu was also asked about allegations that she routinely made false reports that the family was entertaining guests, or exaggerated the number of guests, in order to receive catering services at the expense of the state. The transcript shows her denying the claims, though she is also reported to have said that “If I had said there were few people, the caterers wouldn’t come, it wasn’t worth it for them.” Asked by an investigator why she did not rely more on the services of the cook provided to her by the state, the premier’s wife reportedly said “she’s really a terrific girl but she…doesn’t know how to cook.”

On Friday lawyers for Netanyahu’s wife said that media reports had greatly exaggerated her questioning by police on Thursday, and insisted that “nothing will come” of it.

“Contrary to the impression created by the media, this is not a new investigation, but the completion of an investigation into things that were examined over a year ago,” Cohen and Hadad said. “We say with full confidence: These are trifles, and nothing will come of them, because there is nothing to them,” they added.

But the television station was told by unnamed sources in the police that “as far as the police are concerned there is a basis to serve an indictment against Netanyahu.”

The police said Thursday that the case had already been handed to the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office, and Mrs. Netanyahu was questioned by officers to complete their investigation, after new evidence against her came to light.

“The findings of the investigation and case materials were transferred to the Jerusalem District Prosecutor for review and a decision,” a police spokeswoman said, according to Channel 2 News.

Prosecutors now must decide whether to indict Mrs. Netanyahu or close the case.

In May, Israel Police recommended prosecuting the prime minister’s wife for aggravated fraud for allegedly appropriating public funds earmarked for the Prime Minister’s Residence for private use.

But during a review of the case, the State Prosecutor’s Office asked the police to continue investigating. As a result, the new evidence came to light, according to Channel 10.

The new evidence emerged in a long session of testimony given by Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the residence, on November 1, according to Channel 10.

Menny Naftali, the former caretaker at the Prime Minister's Residence, at the Jerusalem District Labor Court, March 25, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Menny Naftali, the former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, at the Jerusalem District Labor Court, March 25, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Naftali was awarded NIS 170,000 (about $43,735) in damages in February, after a labor court accepted his claims of mistreatment by Mrs. Netanyahu during his employment at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

He had provided extensive descriptions of humiliation, racist remarks and angry fits that he allegedly suffered at the hands of Sara Netanyahu.

Mrs. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and has claimed in the past that she is a victim of a plot to topple the prime minister and that former employees have been paid to testify against her.

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