Israel’s Netanyahu enters plea in court in corruption trial

Israel's Netanyahu enters plea in court in corruption trial
Mr Netanyahu has consistently denied wrongdoing. Source: Reuters
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied corruption charges against him in court for the first time as his trial resumes in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu entered his plea at the hearing which had been previously postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He is the first serving prime minister of Israel to go on trial, which takes place just a month before elections.

Mr Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the district courthouse ahead of Netahyahu’s brief appearance on Monday morning, making noise, waving banners and calling for him to resign.

Mr Netanyahu, 71, had urged supporters not to come to court because of the threat of coronavirus.

He arrived for the hearing wearing a black protective mask. Inside the courtroom he rose to reject the corruption charges, before departing within 45 minutes while his lawyers continued deliberations.

According to Israeli law, a leader charged with a crime is not required to resign, but there is no precedent.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert stepped down as party leader when he was under investigation for corruption in 2008 but technically remained prime minister until elections the following year – polls which brought Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

In short, a serving prime minister occupying the most powerful office in the country simultaneously trying to clear his name and avoid jail-time.

It comes just six weeks before Iraeli voters go to the polls in what is expected to be a close-fought election.

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