State prosecutors have informed the court and the defendants of the names of the second group of witnesses it plans to summon in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu known as Case 4000.
That involves alleged regulatory favors given to Bezeq Telecommunications in exchange for favorable media coverage on the Walla website, formerly owned by Bezeq.
Among these witnesses are former Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, the ministry’s former deputy directors general Haran Levaot and Maimon Shmila, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff David Sharan, the former head of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council Yifat Ben Hai Segev, and investigators from the police’s serious crime unit Lahav 433.
Their testimonies will most likely begin toward the end of the year, after the testimonies of the current group of witnesses in the lavish gifts case, known as Case 1000, have all been heard.
Hearings in Case 1000 will resume following a court recess, on September 6, with Netanyahu’s lawyers cross-examining prosecution witness Hadas Klein, who was the personal assistant of businessmen Arnon Milchan and James Packer. Defense lawyers estimate that this will take two weeks, after which Milchan’s driver, Yonatan Hasson, will testify. He will be followed by James Packer’s housekeeper in Caesarea, Shani Koskas, his chef Limor Likovsky and Milchan’s accountant Sara Shochat.
Other witnesses will include suppliers of champagne and cigars, with Arnon Milchan himself testifying at the end. If no further delays crop up, Milchan, who hasn’t been in Israel for the last five years, is expected to testify in November. If he doesn’t come to Israel he will testify by video.
The indictment lists 330 witnesses. Due to this large number, the prosecution updates the court each time about the next group scheduled to appear. The first group included mainly witnesses relating to Case 4000, including state’s witnesses Nir Hefetz and Shlomo Filber, former workers at Walla, former officials at the Communications Ministry, police investigators and former Netanyahu spokesmen.
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State prosecutors said that they had postponed the testimony of some witnesses in Case 4000. Netanyahu’s defense team subsequently asked the court to hold a hearing on this issue, arguing that this was a substantial change, since their testimony is directly linked to Filber’s testimony, and to others expected to testify as part of the next group of witnesses.
Among those being deferred are Eitan Zafrir, the chief of staff at the Communications Ministry prior to Filber’s assuming office; Adi Kahan, who was Filber’s assistant at the ministry; former Bezeq CEO Stella Handler; Eli Kamir, a consultant at Bezeq, and Ron Ayalon, a former CEO at Yes satellite TV.