State Witness Filber Finishes Testimony in Netanyahu Trial

The prosecution tries to prove that Netanyahu instructed the former Communication Ministry top official, Shlomo Filber, to give regulatory concessions to the telecom Bezeq in exchange for favorable news coverage

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Shlomo Filber at the Jerusalem District Court, in May.
Shlomo Filber at the Jerusalem District Court, in May.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

After three months of intermittent testimony in the corruption trial against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Shlomo Filber, one-time director-general of the Communications Ministry, stepped down from the witness stand in Jerusalem District Court for the last time on Wednesday.

Prior to the trial, Filber agreed to turn state’s evidence against Netanyahu, who is on trial in three cases, including Case 4000, which involves allegations that he gave regulatory concessions to Bezeq in exchange for favorable news coverage from its Walla news site. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in this case and two others.

One major aspect of Filber’s testimony revolved around the timing of a meeting between him and the then-prime minister, at which the prosecution has sought to show that Netanyahu asked Filber to take a particular policy line regarding Bezeq. On Filber’s final day of testimony, prosecutor Judith Tirosh questioned him about a meeting on June 3, 2015, four days before he was officially appointed director general.

Tirosh asked Filber about a document indicating that he was not on the phone between 7:43 P.M. and 11:36 P.M. on that day. Filber acknowledged in response that this may have been when the meeting in question took place, but said that it lasted no more than 20 minutes. “If it did in fact take place at 8 P.M., there’s no reason that I wouldn’t have my phone until 11 P.M.,” he said.

But he questioned the date of the meeting, saying he came to the meeting with a document from the ministry that he would not have had access to prior to taking over as director general.

Tirosh also questioned him about a binder in which the prosecution claims Filber wrote down the alleged instructions from Netanyahu following their meeting. The defense contends, however, that the binder contained information that Netanyahu couldn’t have known about at the time and that the notes were written in preparation for the meeting with the prime minister.

Also at issue in the case has been the prosecution’s claim that Filber’s testimony on the stand was much more favorable to Netanyahu than under questioning by investigators. Tirosh questioned Filber on Wednesday about an alleged follow-up conversation on June 13, about which he was cross-examined. Under cross-examination, he expressed certainty about the interpretation of a particular conversation. On the stand on Wednesday, however, Filber backtracked on the use of the word “certainty,” which he had used earlier.

The next witness in the case is expected to be Shai Hayek, Netanyahu’s former political spokesman, who is scheduled to testify on Monday.

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