Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected a request by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that his upcoming pre-indictment hearing for pending charges on bribery be broadcast live to the public, rebuking Netanyahu for what Mandelblit called an ‘unprecedented’ request.
“This request is unprecedented and lacks any legal basis whatsoever,” Mandelblit wrote in response to Netanyahu’s request.
“No hearing in any matter for any suspect was ever held in a public way. Instead of making a pointless request that you knew would not be accepted, it would have been better for you to submit [summaries] of your main arguments.”
“I’d almost say that your request is disrespectful of the hearing process which we are about to enter, and that it reduces the great importance which this Attorney General attributes to it.”
Mandelblit added that pre-indictment hearings were intended to “give the suspect who has requested the opportunity a chance to express his claims before law enforcement officials, and to convince the authorities that there is no just basis for an indictment against him in the matter. Hearings are not intended to convince the public.”
The Attorney General’s sharp rebuke came in response to an appeal by Netanyahu to Mandelblit that the upcoming pre-indictment hearing the Prime Minister faces be broadcast live to the public.
The Attorney General announced that Netanyahu would be indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust in the Case 1000 and 2000 investigations, and pending a pre-indictment hearing, would face charges of bribery – the most serious charges recommended by the police – in the Case 4000 matter.
The bribery allegations revolve around claims – which have been denied by Netanyahu – that the Prime Minister pushed regulatory changes which would benefit the Bezeq telecommunications company, owned by Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for favorable coverage from a news site owned by Elovitch.