The indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must be amended to distinguish between his own requests that an internet news site tilt its coverage and those made by his family members, the Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday.
Judges Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-Am and Oded Shaham wrote that the indictment “lacks more than a few details” with regard to this case. In it, Netanyahu is charged with bribery for allegedly conferring regulatory benefits on Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage by the telecommunications company’s online news site, Walla. These details are “substantive and relevant to the defendants’ defense,” the judges added.
However, they rejected Netanyahu’s argument that the indictment violates the parliamentary immunity law.
The court ordered the prosecution to submit the amended indictment by December 30, and the defendants will have until January 8 to respond to it. The first evidentiary hearing of the trial is scheduled for January 13, and the court apparently doesn’t intend to postpone it.
The indictment must specify which requests for favorable coverage came from Netanyahu himself, the judges said, to distinguish them from requests made by other members of his family “who aren’t defendants.”
In addition, the prosecution “must provide specifics about the benefits that were allegedly given and taken as a bribe, as well as specifics about the times, insofar as these are known,” they wrote. “It must also specify, insofar as this is known to the prosecutor, through whom the parties acted.
“There is no place for generalizations and lack of specificity via phrases like ‘among other things,’ ‘including,’ ‘significant demands,’ ‘various affairs,’ ‘other employees,’ ‘various parties,’ ‘parties acting on behalf of’ and so forth,” they added.
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The judges also ordered that the indictment distinguish between Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq’s then-owner, and his wife Iris. Both of them are charged with bribing Netanyahu.
Of the indictment’s more than 130 clauses, the prosecution was asked to amend 21 that the judges cited as being insufficiently specific.
In response, Netanyahu claimed the court’s decision is proof that the charges against him were “made up,” arguing the indictment “contains no evidence or facts.”