Netanyahu Trial: Investigator Denies Telling Key Witness to Swap Lawyers

The investigator was being questioned about the treatment of state's evidence and former Netanyahu aide, Nir Hefetz, during interrogation

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State's witness and former Netanyahu aide Nir Hefetz
State's witness and former Netanyahu aide Nir HefetzCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Yaniv Peleg, one of the investigators in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, denied yesterday that he had suggested to state’s witness Nir Hefetz that he replace his attorney. Yesterday’s hearing centered on the conditions in which Hefetz was remanded and questioned, and on claims that he was subjected to illegal pressures and threats.

Attorney Assaf Isuk from the State Prosecutor’s Office questioned Peleg about two statements he made during his investigation of Hefetz. The first dealt with Peleg’s statement to Hefetz that he was “about to drop the bomb”. Peleg said he had been referring to Hefetz’s WhatsApp messages and conversations with suspects in Case 4000.

Isuk also questioned Peleg about a comparison he made during his investigation of Hefetz in which he told the state’s witness: “If a surgeon or physician can cause your death, or you understand at some point that the doctor’s diagnosis is wrong, then perhaps you need to change doctors… just as he can save you, he can also kill you.”

Peleg told the court that the first time he had heard this interpreted as suggesting to Hefetz that he change his attorney was from the media, and this had shocked him. “I never suggested to him (Hefetz) that he change an attorney. Hefetz always made a comparison between an attorney and a doctor. The comparison I made was to me, that I am a ‘doctor’ and that he could talk to me.”

During yesterday’s hearing, Nir Shwartz, an investigator with the Lahav 433 national investigations unit, testified, “You can’t caress someone under interrogation to get them to talk.” Shwartz was responding to questioning from Attorney Jacques Chen, representing Shaul Alowitz, a defendant in the Case 4000 trial.

“An investigation is not a pleasant affair,” said Shwartz. “It requires getting someone who is hiding something to reveal it. You can’t do that with hugs and caresses. Interrogations can be tough sometimes. Sometimes the person being interrogated feels uncomfortable and unpleasant. If he doesn’t want to tell, we try to persuade him.”

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