Netanyahu corruption trial set to begin

Netanyahu has denied the charges in a series of cases he has called an “attempted coup” by the police, prosecutors and the media.

By Associated Press

On Sunday, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will begin his in Jerusalem’s district court based on a series of corruption charges.

Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of cases. He is accused of accepting gifts, such as cartons of champagne and cigars, from friends and offering favors to media moguls in exchange for favorable news coverage of him and his family.

In the most serious case, he is accused of promoting legislation that delivered profits to the owner of a major telecom company while wielding behind-the-scenes editorial influence over the firm’s popular news website.

Netanyahu denies the charges, referring to them as an “attempted coup” by overaggressive police, biased prosecutors and a hostile media.

The prime minister’s legal arguments are likely to focus on his claims that the gifts were genuine shows of affection from close friends and that he never received anything in return for the acts he is accused of committing.

The case is expected to last for several years, given the vast number of witnesses and documents that are expected to be presented.

Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed that investigators would “find nothing because there is nothing.”

This week, judges rejected Netanyahu’s request to stay home on Sunday and allow his lawyers to represent him. Netanyahu had argued that his presence was unnecessary and costly, and that having his security detail in the courtroom would violate social-distancing requirements.