Prosecutors in Netanyahu Trial Request Additional Extension

Netanyahu prosecutors ask for another six days to provide evidence to defense, saying they are still combing through key witness's phone

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, last week.
Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Prosecutors asked the Jerusalem District Court Sunday for a further six-day postponement, until July 11, of their deadline for giving evidence to the defense in a corruption trial whose defendants include former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last week, the court gave prosecutors until Monday to submit text messages, emails and other materials from a new search of the cellphone and accounts of former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, a key witness for the state in a favors-for-favored coverage trial.

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If the court grants the latest request, the trial will resume on July 19 at the earliest, two days before the judiciary’s summer and entire judicial system starts its summer and High Holidays recess.

In their request, prosecutors said they could not meet the Monday deadline and noted the large amount of work involved in sorting the relevant correspondence in Yeshua’s phone.

The lawyers representing Shaul and Iris Elovitch, also defendants in the case and the former owners of Bezeq and the Walla news website – said they supported the prosecution’s request for another extension of a week, and even proposed to give them more time “to complete the locating of the investigative materials in a full manner and also to consider its importance,” wrote the defense attorneys.

In the Bezeq-Walla case, Netanyahu is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust for having allegedly conferred massive regulatory benefits on the Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage on the Walla internet news site.

The trial is expected to resume with the continuation of Yeshua’s testimony.

The judges rejected the prosecution’s request that Avi Berger, a former Communications Ministry director general, begin testifying this week, instead of waiting for Yeshua’s testimony to restart.

A month ago, the judges instructed prosecutors to conduct a new search of Yeshua’s phone for messages relating to coverage by Walla.

Their order was issued after several messages from the device were mistakenly sent to the defense and had not appeared in the evidence submitted by the prosecution.

The three-judge panel, chaired by Rivka Friedman-Feldman, reprimanded prosecutors for failing to fully examine and share with defense attorneys all the relevant material and ordered them to provide it by this week.

The order requires the prosecution to review all messages on Yeshua’s phone mentioning political figures, spokespeople, businesspeople, law enforcement officials, journalists and ad and media executives, plus others who were in touch with him regarding coverage of them on Walla.

Prosecutors had asked that the deadline to submit the evidence be put off until August 5.

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