Court orders Netanyahu to appear for trial

Elias Hubbard
May 24, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu filed on Tuesday a request not to stand before the court at the opening session of his criminal trial next week.

Netanyahu's attorneys had asked the Jerusalem District Court for an exemption from appearing for the opening of proceedings.

The premier's presence in the court requires five bodyguards, his lawyers wrote, meaning the hearing would not be able to take place "within the limitations set by the health ministry due to the coronavirus pandemic".

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.

A day prior, Netanyahu's defence team requested the court to absolve the prime minister from attending, arguing that his presence would complicate social distancing measures.

The court said in response that it could accommodate the fifth-term Netanyahu's security detail, though it declined his additional request to bring a larger legal retinue.

Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes a year ago. 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 unusual unity government broke a year and a half of political stalemate following three rounds of inconclusive elections.

The moves came only two days after Netanyahu has sworn-in his new power-sharing government together with his former rival, Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party.

He is the first prime minister in Israel's history to be indicted while in office.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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