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Judges reject Netanyahu trial witness’s request for closed-door cross-examination

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A key state witness ended his main testimony on Tuesday in the corruption trial against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and started his cross-examination, which will be public despite the witness’s request to hold parts of it behind closed doors for privacy reasons.

Judges rejected former Netanyahu aide Nir Hefetz’s request to hold in private parts of the cross-examination discussing a police maneuver during his interrogation that played a part in him agreeing to become a state witness.

Most details of the maneuver are under a gag order to protect Hefetz’s privacy, although the media has reported that it involved Hefetz’s wife being called to the police station, as well as another woman.

Hefetz has provided prosecutors with key information as an interlocutor between Netanyahu and Bezeq’s controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, as the prime minister sought to positively influence coverage of his affairs through the Elovitch-owned Walla news site. Hefetz was often the one communicating the premier’s wishes to Walla management and has testified on the nature of this relationship.

Netanyahu is accused of bribery in the case, allegedly having provided regulatory benefits to Bezeq in return for positive coverage on Walla. He denies the allegations.

In the cross-examination, Netanyahu’s defense team is focusing on the maneuver, trying to undermine Hefetz’s testimony by arguing that he had agreed to become a state witness and provide incriminating information under duress. Hefetz has said that despite the heavy pressure, his testimony is “unequivocally the truth.”

Asked about the matter on Tuesday by Netanyahu lawyer Boaz Ben-Tzur,........

© The Times of Israel

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