Netanyahu Lawyers to Court: Police Acted Criminally in PM's Corruption Probe, Indictments Should Be Quashed

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Netanyahu at the start of his criminal trial in Jerusalem, May 2020
Netanyahu at the start of his criminal trial in Jerusalem, May 2020Credit: RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyers presented the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday with over 200 pages of material that they claim prove criminal behavior by police investigators in their investigation of the prime minister that led to criminal indictments against him in three separate cases.

In their filing, the lawyers asked that the indictments be quashed, based in part on the claim that he is immune from prosecution.

"The investigative material reveals severe acts that call for the indictment to be quashed – a crime that was not investigated, but invented," the court filing stated, also alleging that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit failed to abide by the requirements in filing charges against a member of parliament, and therefore the prime minister is immune from being charged.

Sunday was the deadline for Netanyahu to present any objections to the indictment. The State Prosecutor's Office has until Thursday to respond.

The prime minister has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Following Sunday's filing of objections by Netanyahu's lawyers – and a similar filing by lawyers for two other defendants in the case, Shaul and Iris Elovitch – the prosecutor's office issued a statement saying that most of the arguments had already been raised in the case and considered.

In their objections to the indictment against the prime minister, his lawyers, Amit Hadad and Boaz Ben Zur, allege that the prime minister was targeted in advance and that improper criminal means were used, including pressure exerted on witnesses.

They claim that the case constitutes selective enforcement of the law and has been tainted by leaks to the media. The investigators also failed to investigate any evidence that would have tended to exonerate the prime minister, the lawyers allege.

The flaws in the case, when taken together, constitute abuse of process, the lawyers stated, meaning legal grounds on which a case that is fundamentally flawed can be dismissed in the interest of justice.

The three cases against the prime minister have been dubbed Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. Case 4000, in which Shaul Elovitch, the former controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications company, and his wife, Iris, have also been charged, involves allegations that the prime minister provided regulatory concessions to Bezeq in return for favorable news coverage on the Bezeq-owned Walla news website.

Case 1000 involves allegations that Netanyahu received lavish gifts from wealthy business figures including Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in return for acts benefitting Milchan.

Case 2000 is centered around allegations that Netanyahu offered Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Israel's most popular daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, government policy favorable to the newspaper in return for favorable news coverage by the daily.

In Sunday's filing, Netanyahu's lawyers alleged that in addition to the immunity that the prime minister has due to a failure to follow procedure, Netanyahu has substantive immunity in Case 2000 because any actions that he took were in the course of his parliamentary duties. 

In Sunday's filing on behalf of Iris Elovitch, it was alleged in part that the indictment against her constituted selective enforcement because the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, and the CEO of Walla at the time, Ilan Yeshua, were not charged. The prime minister's wife allegedly had directly influenced content on the news website.

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