One of the three judges in the trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly asked the state prosecution and the defense teams to consider a non-binding “criminal mediation” process, in part because the proceedings are proving so protracted.
The trial began three years ago and, as things stand, the proceedings, including potential appeals, are seen as unlikely to end before 2028-2029.
According to a Channel 12 report, Jacques Chen, a lawyer for one of Netanyahu’s fellow defendants, the former Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitz, suggested mediation for all defendants last week during a discussion before Judge Oded Shaham.
Lawyers for Netanyahu, who is on trial in three cases — facing one count of bribery and three counts of fraud and breach of trust — “did not rule out the idea,” the report said, and Judge Shaham asked the state to weigh the idea.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara will therefore have to decide if she wants to pursue this option, and will need to make a decision “in the next few days,” according to the report, by leading journalist Ilana Dayan.
Chen raised the “surprising suggestion” of mediation when Shaham was holding behind-closed-doors discussions with the sides on trying to reduce the lengthy witness lists in the trial.
Mediation is generally held before a serving judge (not one of the judges in the trial), who does not hear witnesses, and does not restart the trial, the report stressed. Rather, the judge tries to work toward what amounts to a potential plea bargain.
For instance, the report said, the judge could cancel the bribery charge against Netanyahu and convict him on fraud and breach of trust — a potential resolution reportedly considered when former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit held plea bargain contacts with Netanyahu’s lawyers in late 2021 to early 2022.
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