Likud MK Shlomo Karhi said Thursday that he had informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before he made his demand to disqualify the head of the three judge panel in Netanyahu’s trial for having a conflict of interest.
Karhi claimed that the son of Jerusalem District Court Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman once worked in a law firm where one of the senior partners will be called to testify for the prosecution in Netanyahu’s case, disqualifying Friedman-Feldman from the case. In addition, Karhi claimed that this witness is a “harsh, blunt critic of the prime minister.”
Karhi tried to hint, in an interview with Kan Bet public radio, that Supreme Court President Esther Hayut has acted to ensure that Friedman-Feldman would head the panel. When asked why he thought Hayut did so, Karhi said that Friedman-Feldman once “convicted someone in a very severe manner for bribery.”
When asked whether he had coordinated his request with Netanyahu’s lawyers, he said no. Later, when asked if he had told Netanyahu of his intention to submit the disqualification request to Hayut, Karhi said he had, adding that he “I didn’t wait for his permission.”
Karhi submitted the request to Esther Hayut, even though such a request needs to be submitted to the panel of judges themselves, and only by a party to the proceedings.
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The law firm where Friedman-Feldman’s son worked until a year and a half ago is one of the largest in Israel, and it employs 380 attorneys.
The evidentiary stage of Netanyahu’s trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is scheduled to begin in January, with three sessions a week. In May, when the trial began, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu said the judges “were not chosen by accident.”