Israeli law enforcement officials were accused of abusive treatment of witnesses in the multiple cases against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Former Netanyahu family spokesman Nir Hefetz told the judge presiding over a remand hearing that while in detention, he was being allowed only a few hours of sleep a night and was “exhausted,” according to Hadashot news.
“There was a fight between prisoners in the cell, which was an hour or two that I couldn’t sleep,” Hefetz said. “I woke up in the morning with hundreds of flea bites, and my entire body was covered in blisters. When I got to the interrogation this morning, I asked for a doctor so I could can get a salve. The answer I got was, ‘You don’t die from this. You’ll get treatment from the IPS.’ I had hundreds of blisters in my hands and body, and I cannot believe the criterion to see a doctor is when your life is at risk.”
“I collapsed on the cell floor, and only then did a medic come,” Hefetz told the court.
Hefetz’s lawyer Yaron Kostelitz added that police weren’t allowing Hefetz to change his clothes or take a shower.
Police investigators said that Hefetz was not cooperating with them, refusing to answer questions about his alleged involvement in the Bezeq affair in which Netanyahu allegedly promised regulatory benefits to the telecom company in exchange for chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch, giving Netanyahu and his family favorable coverage on the Walla news site, which Elovitch owns. Hefetz is also being interrogated in a separate probe dubbed Case 1270, about an alleged attempt to bribe a judge on behalf of Netanyahu.
Hefetz’s remand was extended first by three days and then by two additional days.
On Thursday night, a police source was quoted by Israeli media that Hefetz has yet to agree to testify as a state witness.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Thursday also extended the remand of Elovitch along with his wife for an additional four days.
Elovitch attorny Jack Chen complained to the court about the browbeating tactics of police interrogators. Chen said they told Elovitch that he was “done” and that “when you are released, you’ll be a supermarket security guard.”
Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz commented during Mrs. Elovitch’s hearing that the case is seeing “a continuously growing suspicion of grave offenses, and in the case of the suspect — grave obstruction offenses.”
Also giving testimony are a number of current and former employees at Walla.
Former Communications Ministry director Shlomo Filber, who on Tuesday signed a deal with prosecutors to turn state’s witness in the Bezeq case,& had his remand extended on Wednesday by 15 days, at a facility in an undisclosed location.
Meanwhile, the pressure of the ongoing investigations was taking its toll of Netanyahu’s current staff. Shai Hayek, a spokesman for the prime minister, announced that he is taking a leave of absence after undergoing a round of police questioning, Hadashot reported on Thursday night.
Hayek has reportedly hired a lawyer and is not responding to reporters’ questions.
Associates explained that his decision was due to the stress of dealing with the ever-expanding investigations involving Netnayahu.