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Netanyahu trial: Did Yeshua continue scheme after dramatic 2016 meeting?

CM 12/05/2021

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The defense continued to pummel the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness, former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, before the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday in the public corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch.During the prosecution’s presentation in April, Yeshua testified that he had a dramatic meeting on December 27, 2016, with Shaul and Iris Elovitch in which they demanded, as part of a cover-up, that he delete all text messages connected to Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Media Bribery Affair.Yeshua testified then that he was so shocked by their demand that the following morning he terminated all cooperation with requests from Netanyahu and Elovitch to slant coverage in the prime minister’s favor.The former Walla CEO also said he did not delete the text messages as requested, though he lied to Elovitch and told him he had.But on Wednesday Elovitch lawyer Jacques Chen presented evidence that Yeshua continued to slant coverage toward Netanyahu in an incident on December 29, 2016, and again on January 8, 2017.These inconsistencies in Yeshua’s story could also raise questions about whether he was truthful concerning what happened at the meeting on December 27, 2016.How dramatically can that meeting have affected him if he continued to slant coverage multiple times shortly after it?

This is important to the defense because if it can prove that the Elovitches deleted their text messages for some motivation unconnected with criminal intent – for example, to avoid embarrassment or blackmail – it would remove a key aspect of the prosecution’s case that they
were trying to destroy evidence.When Yeshua said he was surprised that Elovitch issued a new request to slant coverage toward Netanyahu on January 8, 2017, Chen denied that was surprised, since Elovitch had appealed to him only two days after the supposed dramatic turning point on December 27.Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman also seemed interested in this issue, asking, “You said you were surprised that there was a request to you a week later [after the December 27, 2016, meeting]. What surprised you if you’d had a similar discussion only two days later?”The prosecution will likely say that inconsistencies in Yeshua’s testimony do not render all of it untrue. It will also rely on the alleged motive in deletion of messages by the Elovitches while under a criminal probe as self-evidently criminal in intent.Chen also explored inconsistencies from Yeshua regarding deleting text messages.Though Yeshua did not delete most of his text messages as the Elovitches allegedly did, Chen said a defense investigator found deleted messages and recorded conversations on Yeshua’s cellphone that the prosecution had not presented and that undermined aspects of its case.Yeshua said he could not explain why there were a relatively small number of deleted messages.However, he added that he must have forgotten about them, and that if Chen could not use these messages to counter the overwhelming evidence of a Netanyahu-Elovitch bribery scheme, then these messages are insignificant. Source: Jerusalem Post

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