Israeli police question Netanyahu for five hours over telecoms corruption case

Mar 03, 2018, 00:19
Israeli police question Netanyahu for five hours over telecoms corruption case

Israeli police were questioning Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife as part of an investigation into a corruption case involving the country's telecom giant on Friday, casting a shadow on the prime minister's upcoming visit to Washington.

Israeli police investigators on Friday questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for five hours about allegations concerning the Bezeq corruption case.

Israeli media said the controlling shareholder of Bezeq Telecom, Shaul Elovitch, and Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu spokesman, were also being questioned.

Police recommended last month that Mr Netanyahu be indicted in two other corruption investigations. A Reuters cameraman saw a vehicle carrying two police officers pull into the prime minister's official residence on Friday morning.

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Filber, a Netanyahu ally for more than 20 years and a former communications ministry director general, is expected be a state witness in exchange for avoiding jail.

About 70 protesters gathered outside the prime minister's residence, demanding he step down. The final choice on both instances could take weeks.

Some drivers touted their horns in support as they drove by.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer in return for certain benefits. Netanyahu reportedly was recorded asking Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, for positive coverage in exchange for helping to weaken Israel Hayom, a free pro-Netanyahu newspaper that had cut into Yediot's business.

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Police are believed to have incriminating text messages between the two women, as well as evidence of Iris Elovitch's conversations with her husband about news coverage of the Netanyahu family.

So far, partners in Netanyahu's governing coalition have stood by him, saying they are awaiting the attorney-general's next moves.

There are also calls for Netanyahu to be investigated for his role in a billion-dollar deal to purchase three submarines from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH.

Channel 10 news reported on Thursday that investigators are in possession of correspondence between Sara Netanyahu and Elovitch's wife that appear to implicate the prime minister's wife in the burgeoning scandal. In the meantime, Netanyahu is not obligated to resign and has indicated he will fight the charges while remaining in office.

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