Interrogation under caution takes place as questioning of suspects continues in other affair, involving the prime minister and media mogul Arnon Mozes. ‘Investigation won’t take too long,’ says Israel police chief.
The rise of Yair Netanyahu, the 25-year-old who has the prime minister’s ear
New leaks: Netanyahu and Mozes discuss how deeply Adelson’s daily must be cut
Israeli police were barred from questioning Netanyahu, wife simultaneously Harretz reports.
Police questioned Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for four hours on Tuesday in connection with the so-called Case 1000, involving suspicions that the Netanyahu family received perks from wealthy businessmen. Israel Police’s Lahav 433 fraud investigation unit questioned the younger Netanyahu under caution, meaning he could be considered a suspect in committing a crime.
According to a Channel 10 television report, the police asked Yair Netanyahu about money he ostensibly received from Australian billionaire James Packer, and about the latter’s relationship with his father. According to the report, Yair Netanyahu’s line of defense was expected to be that his father had no idea who gave him the funds.
Earlier on Tuesday, Arnon Mozes, publisher of the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth, was questioned once again with respect to the second affair connected to the prime minister, dubbed Case 2000. The police previously questioned Mozes for three hours Monday, and for eight hours on Sunday. The police’s fraud unit also brought in Amos Regev, editor-in-chief of the free newspaper Israel Hayom, to give testimony in the same case.
The affair dubbed Case 2000 focuses on suspicions that Netanyahu and Mozes discussed a deal whereby Mozes’ daily would give more favorable coverage of the prime minister in return for weakening Israel Hayom as a competitor of Yedioth.
Ron Yaron, the editor of Yedioth, gave testimony Monday in the Netanyahu-Mozes affair, as part of the police’s effort to determine whether Mozes had spoken to the editor at any time, in order to enlist him in the scheme the publisher and the premier allegedly cooked up.
The police believe that if Mozes had made such a request of Yaron – even if the latter didn’t know about the conversations with Netanyahu – that would constitute proof that the deal was actually being implemented, at least on the part of Mozes.
The police did not investigate Yaron under caution because at this point they do not believe that he was involved in executing the alleged plan.
For his part, Yair Netanyahu was to be interrogated in the context of Case 1000, which involves suspicions that he and members of his family received valuable gifts and other perks from wealthy businessmen in Israel and abroad.
About a month ago Channel 10 reported that the younger Netanyahu stayed last summer in a luxurious apartment belonging to Packer, at the Royal Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv. According to the report, a few months ago Packer’s attorney in Israel, Jacob Weinroth, met with Interior Minister Arye Dery and requested that Packer be awarded permanent residency status in the country. It was also reported that the favors Packer allegedly gave Yair Netanyahu were not limited to allowing him to use the Tel Aviv apartment, but also included vacations, private flights and a stay at a luxury hotel.
On Tuesday morning, during a tour of the Bedouin town of Rahat in southern Israel, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich spoke about the two affairs involving Prime Minister Netanyahu, and suggested that “the investigation won’t be very long.” Alsheich spoke generally about corruption among elected officials, and said of the police that, “our job is not to collect information about them or to initiate efforts that will reveal such information – our job is to eliminate corruption and to guard the state coffers.”
He added that, “information inevitably surfaces in a democratic country. Everyone talks about everyone else, so the information arrives.”
Alsheich also spoke of the police’s role vis-a-vis Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, explaining that, “We have to be coordinated with the attorney general and to act according to his instructions. This is a subject in which the police have less freedom of action, and the real test lies in the results.”
The police commissioner also discussed the upcoming retirement of Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, head of the police investigations and intelligence division, noting that the rounds of appointments in the Israel Police are conducted in an organized fashion. He added that Yitzhaki has acceded to the request not to leave his job “before everything is over,” as Alscheich put it, saying, “He understands that it’s not proper to retire during the course of an investigation.”