Netanyahu Trial: State Asks to Treat Key Witness as Hostile

Court won't declare Shlomo Filber a hostile witness just yet, but allows prosecution to cross examine him on the stand ■ Declaring the former Netanyahu aide hostile could endanger his immunity deal

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Shlomo Filber at the Jerusalem District Court this morning.
Shlomo Filber at the Jerusalem District Court this morning.Credit: Amit Shabi / Yedioth Ahronoth
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

A prosecutor in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the court on Tuesday for permission to treat Shlomo Filber, a key prosecution witness, as hostile.

Judith Tirosh told the judges that Filber, during his investigation in court, had made “statements that have the potential to change the picture” and had responded to questions with answers at odds with prior police testimony he gave, asking “to interrogate [him] in a cross-examination."

The request alleges that Filber, a former Communications Ministry director general who turned state's evidence, has failed live up to his agreement with the prosecution.

After a short recess, the judges said that Filber will not be declared a hostile witness just yet, but have allowed the prosecution to cross-examine him, which means that he could be confronted with his responses in previous interrogations.

Ahead of the decision, Filber stated that he “came here to tell the truth."

Netanyahu at the courtroom, on Monday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

"I do not see myself as a hostile witness," Filber told the court. "I just tried to be precise. It was a bit out of proportion. I intend to continue to be close to my version. It is both difficult for me mentally and also a complex issue. I would like to withdraw my previous answer.”

If declared hostile, Filber's testimony in his previous police interrogation will be preferred over his testimony at trial. The prosecution will then have to decide whether to cancel its agreement with Filber, which granted him immunity from prosecution, or leave it intact.

Cancellation of a state evidence agreement may result in the filing of an indictment against Filber for perjury, as well as for offenses in which he was suspected before signing the deal.

Boaz Ben-Zur, Netanyahu's defense attorney, opposed declaring Filber a hostile witness.

"I am asking for a break of a few minutes. I oppose the definition of a hostile witness,” he told the court, calling Tirosh’s request “purely tactical.”

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