Tags: benjamin netanyah | former aide | state witness | bribery cases

Netanyahu's Former Aide Turns State's Witness in Bribery Cases

Image: Netanyahu's Former Aide Turns State's Witness in Bribery Cases
Benjamin Netanyahu, 67, has been questioned in two cases, one dealing with gifts given to him and his family by businessmen, and another related to conversations he held with an Israeli publisher. A former aide of his has become a state witness in the probe. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, 04 Aug 2017 09:12 AM

A former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state in two graft cases in which the Israeli leader has been questioned as a suspect, court papers showed on Friday.

The decision by Ari Harow to turn state's witness as part of a plea bargain in his own, separate corruption case adds a new dimension to a long-running investigation involving Netanyahu.

The four-term premier has denied any wrongdoing. His family spokesman said Netanyahu would withstand what he described as a "witch-hunt" designed to force him from office.

Netanyahu, 67, has been questioned under caution by police in two cases, one dealing with gifts given to him and his family by businessmen, and another related to conversations he held with an Israeli publisher.

An Israeli court injunction said the cases involved "suspicion of the commission of the felonies of bribery, fraud and breach of trust" but did not specify who might be charged for the crimes.

Harow served two stints as Netanyahu's chief of staff before resigning in 2015 amid allegations he had improperly handled private business affairs. The court injunction said he had turned state's witness but barred publication of any details about what he would tell investigators or testify to.

Under the deal, Harow agreed to confess to fraud and breach of trust, the court injunction said. He will be sentenced to six months' imprisonment, commuted to community service, and a fine of 700,000 shekels ($194,000).

Even if eventually indicted, Netanyahu would not be obliged by law to resign. His opponents have called on him to do so.

In his 11 years of office, Netanyahu, who last won elections in 2015, has weathered several scandals and police inquiries.

Another former Netanyahu aide who worked with Harow said on Wednesday that his testimony could be a "bombshell" against the prime minister, given the extent of his knowledge.

In addition to the cases in which Harow will testify, police are currently investigating Netanyahu's wife over her use of official funds.

There is a separate investigation into a $2 billion purchase of German submarines, in which Netanyahu's personal lawyer also represented the local agent of the manufacturer. Netanyahu is not a suspect in that case.

The cases in which Harow is expected to testify have been dubbed "1,000" and "2,000" by Israeli police.

Case 1,000 involves Netanyahu and family members receiving gifts on a regular basis from two businessmen. Israeli media have reported that the gifts included cigars and champagne.

Case 2,000 involves a deal Netanyahu allegedly discussed with the owner of one of Israel's largest newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage in return for curbs on competition from a free paper owned by U.S. casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. The latter paper has long supported the prime minister. 

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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A former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state in two graft cases in which the Israeli leader has been questioned as a suspect, court papers showed on Friday.
benjamin netanyah, former aide, state witness, bribery cases
466
2017-12-04
Friday, 04 Aug 2017 09:12 AM
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