This is a reminder hearing, a type of working meeting in which the parties update the court on how they have progressed in studying the material, and set schedules for the administration of the trial.
Because it is essentially a technical hearing, the four defendants in the Alps cases – Prime Minister Netanyahu, Shaul and Iris Elowitz and Noni Mozes, were granted an exemption from appearing, but Elowitz chose to go to court because of his defense attorneys’ claims about the discrepancies between transcripts and recordings.
Until after the court recess, which ends in September, no significant developments are expected in the case, but the court has set a timetable until the opening of the evidentiary phase.
Requests for the disclosure of investigative materials and the removal of confidentiality will be submitted by September 13, 2020, while the response to the indictment and preliminary allegations will be submitted by October 18. The state will respond in writing to the preliminary claims by November 1, so that the parties will have two months to prepare for the evidentiary phase.
In January 2021, the evidentiary phase of the trial will begin, in which prosecution witnesses will testify for three days a week. The four defendants, including the prime minister, should be present in the courtroom. Recall that each of the defendants will be able to file a request for adjournment of the schedule on the grounds of a change in circumstances.
Advocate Yossi Segev, who recently joined Netanyahu’s defense team, appeared at the reminder hearing today, after Adv. Micha Petman resigned from the representation following the permit committee’s decision not to allow the prime minister to receive NIS 10 million in funding for his legal defense. Segev is a lawyer who specializes in tax law and has experience in criminal law, and this was Netanyahu’s first appearance.
Segev surprised the court by explaining that he was in fact given a power of attorney only for the reminder hearing and the question of representation still depends on the arrangement of funding. Judge Rebecca Friedman-Feldman reacted impatiently: “I hope my lord does not change. I do not want to find ourselves at the next hearing with a lawyer who says the representation has not been settled. This case is from January, it is impossible for someone else to come every time.”
However, although Adv. Segev announced that he had begun studying the investigation materials, the prosecutor, Adv. Liat Ben-Ari, informed the court that in the two months that had passed since the first hearing in Netanyahu’s case, she had been approached by Elowitz and Mozes to obtain clarification on the investigation materials. , While Netanyahu’s defense attorneys did not contact her even once.
The person who stood out in his absence today at the hearing was Adv. Amit Hadad, who accompanied the prime minister from the beginning of the legal proceedings. Although each party was allowed to bring only one representative into the courtroom, in the previous hearing Hadad waited outside the courtroom and followed the hearing live.
The departure of Adv. Fatman has joined a long line of senior jurists who have represented Netanyahu in recent years, and advised him.
Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari announced that professionally the State Attorney’s Office plans to begin the evidentiary phase in the order of the indictments. That is, a 4000 portfolio at first, then a 2000 portfolio and finally a 1000 portfolio.
However, she stressed that the prosecution would be flexible to change the order of disputes if the parties filed motions.
Attorney Jacques Chen, representing Shaul Alovich, asked the court not to start the 4000 case, claiming that it is much larger than the other cases both in terms of the investigation materials and in terms of the number of witnesses. The issue has not yet been decided.
Advocate Segev asked to postpone the trial for six months because of the corona. “As you can see, we are not ready yet … I mean the corona period. How can I interrogate witnesses and I am here with a mask on? “He asked. Judge Friedman-Feldman replied:” Believe me it is possible. “
Segev continued: “How can a cross-examination be done when I am with a mask, the witness with a mask and I do not know if my lady is angry or happy”?
The judge wondered if Netanyahu’s defense attorney was proposing to close the courts until after the corona, and Segev suggested not scheduling evidentiary hearings at this stage and that he needed long months to study the material. “We will be smarter in six months and not today, we will know what the guidelines are, maybe we will also ask for a bigger hall,” he added.
At the beginning of the hearing, attorneys Michal Rosen-Ozer, on behalf of Shaul and Iris Elowitz, claimed that the defense team discovered discrepancies between the transcript and the recording of the conversation between Or Elowitz and the police investigator. And tried to persuade him to sign a state witness agreement.
According to Adv. Rosen-Ozer, the transcript shows that the police intervened in the representation of Shaul Alovich and begged his son to speak to his father’s heart about the state witness and the problematic advice he receives in the matter from his lawyer Jacques Chen.
In September 2019, the chairman of the Bar Association, Avi Chimi, addressed the Attorney General with a request to examine the allegations, and Mandelblit replied: ” Because “the assumption was based on a fragmentary quote from a recording that does not faithfully reflect the face of things.”
According to Rosen-Ozer, Or Elovich’s transcripts, which were obsolete after the ombudsman’s examination, give an indication that there may be additional gaps in the investigation materials, so the defense needs many months to go through all the materials thoroughly.
Prosecutor Ben-Ari announced that she would examine the allegations about the meeting with Or Elovich in detail, but said emphatically: “It is very important to say that no one is hiding investigative materials, because things are before the defense attorneys.”
Judge Friedman-Feldman gave the prosecutor’s office a week to examine Elovich’s allegations.