Israel court orders Netanyahu to appear for opening of trial

24 Mai, 2020, 19:49 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a swearing in ceremony of his new unity government with election rival Benny Gantz at the Knesset Israel's parliament in Jerusalem

Netanyahu's lawyers slammed the ministry's position, insisting Sunday's hearing was "technical" and there was "no need for the prime minister to attend".

An Israeli court rejected on Wednesday a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be absent from the opening of his corruption trial next week, saying he must abide by the practice of hearing the charges in person.

The prosecution's real reason for insisting Netanyahu be in court was "a media campaign seeking to show the prime minister in the dock", his lawyers added. They argued that his presence was "not essential" for the arraignment because their client had "read this indictment several times already", and that his bodyguards' presence in the room would violate Health Ministry social distancing requirements.

Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes past year.

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"It is incumbent upon the requester, as with all other defendants, to appear and have his say in court", the three-judge panel said in its ruling. He has denied any wrongdoing within the sequence of scandals involving accepting lavish presents from rich associates, buying and selling media reforms for constructive protection.

The request was submitted to the Jerusalem District Court, where the trial of the long-serving leader will begin on Sunday, hours after the justice ministry said that he should not be exempted, as the presence of defendants in their opening session is a regular procedure. Under their power-sharing deal, Netanyahu and Gantz will rotate the prime minister's job during the next three years - with Netanyahu holding the post for the first 18 months. Netanyahu could also seek a plea deal rather than go through the trial process.

Unlikely. The trial could take years.

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