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Former PM residence worker to have phone searched over claims she lied to court

A former Prime Minister’s Residence worker accused of perjuring herself to benefit Sara Netanyahu will have her phone searched by police, following a court decision on Monday.

The Rishon Lezion Magistrates’ Court upheld the approval for the search, rejecting an appeal by the former employee who wished to block access to her phone, according to the Walla news site. Police were seeking to search the device to corroborate claims of possible lying to court.

Police will examine the contents of the suspect’s device as part of their investigation into whether two employees at the official residence gave false testimony in a civil case against Sara Netanyahu — reportedly in order to help her fend off accusations of mistreating a housekeeper.

The news site did not name which former worker’s phone would be probed. Media reports have named the two former employees who admitted to having provided false testimony as Liora Babian and Sylvie Genesia.

Sara Netanyahu faces a civil lawsuit from former employee Shira Raban, who claims the premier’s wife mistreated her during a brief stint working at the residence. Raban seeks $63,000 in damages over alleged mistreatment and harassment.

According to a Channel 13 report last month, Babian — one of the two workers who testified on Sara Netanyahu’s behalf — confessed to the legal adviser of the Prime Minister’s Office that she had lied in an affidavit countering the claims of Raban’s mistreatment. The legal adviser subsequently informed the state prosecutor of the development, prompting the police investigation, which was approved by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Prosecutors then asked the court to delay the civil proceedings in the Raban case by a month to enable the police investigation to uncover evidence.

The report did not specify whether Babian claimed to have submit the affidavit of her own volition or faced pressure to back Sara Netanyahu’s account.

The second worker named in news reports, Genesia, reportedly told police how the manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence made her pen a letter lauding the premier’s wife, even though Netanyahu’s housekeeping demands had brought her to tears.

Sara Netanyahu is suing Genesia for libel.

Several former employees have claimed mistreatment and abuse by the prime minister’s wife. The official residence’s former caretaker successfully sued her for verbal and emotional abuse, as did another former worker.

In June 2019, Sara Netanyahu was convicted of misusing public funds as part of a plea deal in a case involving allegations she illegally procured and then misreported catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The agreement saw Netanyahu escape a conviction for aggravated fraud, but confess to a lesser charge of taking advantage of a mistake. She was ordered to pay NIS 55,000 ($15,210) to the state — NIS 10,000 as a fine, and the rest as restitution.

The prime minister is currently on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases. He denies the charges against him.

Header: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara at a welcoming ceremony for the Brazilian president at Ben Gurion Airport on March 31, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Source: TOI