Netanyahu seeking to be excused from corruption trial opening

Prime Minister Netanyahu requested permission to skip the opening of his corruption trial, which is scheduled to begin next week in Jerusalem.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted a request through his lawyers to the State Prosecutor’s Office requesting not to appear for the opening of his trial next week, Channel 12 reported Monday.

The request was submitted despite standard procedure that all defendants appear at the opening of their trial. Netanyahu’s lawyers have yet to substantiate the request, and it is unknown how the court will decide on the matter, the report said.

Despite the request, the hearing on the opening day of the trial is mainly technical and there is no substantial need for the presence of the defendants, which makes the court’s decision on the matter of interest given the prominence of the accused. A few weeks ago, the court outright rejected a live broadcast request for the hearing

The prime minister is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of public trust, but has consistently denied the allegations and says the trial is a political witchhunt by people who failed to defeat him at the ballot box. The previous opening date for the trial was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

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The report said it is unclear on what grounds Netanyahu will request the exemption from showing up at the May 24 hearing at the Jerusalem District Court.

Netanyahu previously deemed  the charges “ridiculous” and said that he intended to attend the hearing, however, his attorneys made the request not to attend.

With his new government sworn in Sunday, Netanyahu overcame attempts to pass legislation barring him from serving as prime minister because of the charges and petitions to Israel’s Supreme Court by NGOs seeking to nullify the coalition agreement.