Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan reportedly walked back previous testimony that police were planning to use in the ongoing criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over allegations that the premier accepted illegal gifts from Milchan.
Milchan’s testimony given to police investigators last week in his Los Angeles home was softened from testimony the billionaire gave in November, according to a report in Channel 2 on Wednesday. According to the report Milchan second testimony differed on the amounts of gifts that were given to Netanyahu and his family and the extend of the premier’s awareness of the gifts.
The existence of testimony was confirmed by The Jerusalem Post, however, a police official declined to comments on the substance.
Reportedly, the Justice Ministry said the contradiction is significant enough that police investigators must seek testimony from Australian billionaire James Packer, who is also suspected of giving the Netanyahu family gifts.
Wednesday’s report appears to contradict a Channel 2 report on Tuesday that the Milchan’s testimony supported a police decision to recommend indicting Netanyahu. The billionaire is said to have supported the prior testimony of his secretary, Hadas, who reportedly gave specific details about the gifts given to the Netanyahus and was instrumental in purchasing and coordinating the gifts. Milchan told investigators he became “fed up” with giving gifts to the prime minister and his family, according to Channel 2.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s personal physician Dr. Tzvi Berkowitz said on Wednesday that the prime minister has stopped smoking cigars due to health problems.
This came as Netanyahu reportedly told police investigators on Monday that he does not smoke cigars because he suffers from sinus problems.
Speaking to radio station 103 FM, the doctor affirmed Netanyahu’s claim stating, “It’s not an alibi, it’s true.”
“He has not smoked cigars for a long time already. Also In the past he never smoked a lot. The reason is his nose,” Berkowitz stated.
According to a police investigation termed Case 1,000, the prime minister is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of fine cigars, including iconic Cuban Montecristos, Cohiba Sigla Vs and Trinidads from billionaire Israeli movie mogul Arnon Milchan.
Netanyahu’s lawyer Yaakov Weinroth has defended the cigar gifts stating in January, “Any reasonable person knows that someone bringing their friend cigars is not a criminal offense.”
On Tuesday Netanyahu’s lawyers refuted a number of reports that stated the prime minister was surprised by investigators with new testimony while being questioned by police the day before.
Weinroth told Army Radio that Netanyahu had not been presented with “any new document.” The prime minister, he said, was questioned only regarding separate allegations that Netanyahu attempted to broker favorable media coverage with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes in exchange for weakening the Israel Hayom newspaper, which has been termed Case 2000.
Netanyahu’s lawyers repeated the prime minister’s mantra on Tuesday, regarding the investigation: “there will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
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