Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial opens in Israel

The trial of Benjamin Netanyahu opens Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister is accused of receiving € 180,000 in gifts during his mandate in exchange for economic benefits and for having received good coverage from several large media outlets.

It is a first in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet his judges on Sunday, May 24, to answer criminal charges and corruption during his term. After seventeen months of the election crisis during which he played his “political survival,” Benjamin Netanyahu is expected in the early afternoon at the Jerusalem District Court for a legal battle.

Before him, Ehud Olmert, the former star of Likud, had already been accused of corruption, but after resigning as prime minister. Olmert had been sentenced to receive bribes before spending sixteen months in prison. A scenario that Benjamin Netanyahu, 70, is trying to avoid, is accused of having received 700,000 shekels (180,000 euros) of cigars, champagne and jewelery from wealthy personalities in exchange for financial or personal benefits.

Favorable coverage of several current media

Benjamin Netanyahu also sought to secure good coverage from Israel’s largest paid daily, Yediot Aharonot, according to investigators. Above all, the courts suspect him of granting government benefits that could have brought in millions of dollars to the owner of Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq in exchange for favorable media coverage of one of the group’s media and affected him. Walla website.

After months of tension, Attorney General Avichaï Mandelblit accused Benjamin Netanyahu of November 2019, which was then considered a “political death order” by his offenders. But “Bibi” managed to stay at the forefront of his party, finish first in the last legislative election, negotiate a power-sharing agreement with his rival Benny Gantz and thus remain prime minister.

A trial in the presence of the accused

Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys had asked that he not have to show up on Sunday afternoon at a trial that could last from one to three years, including any appeals.

But the court has confirmed in recent days that the prime minister should be present at the hearing, even if it remains technical, with the prosecution reading program. “A person can only be tried for criminal charges in his presence,” the magistrates insisted. After the first day, the three judges in the Jerusalem Court selected by the Supreme Court will be able to ask the Prime Minister to take part in various hearings.

In Israel, the Prime Minister has no legal immunity, but unlike other elected officials and officials, he does not have to resign or retire during his trial. The main party appeals for his innocence, condemns a conspiracy hatched by justice against him but can also, at any time before the verdict, “negotiate a verdict” with the prosecutor under permission under Israeli law.