Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Corruption Trial to Start on March 27

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will start on March 27. The country’s longest-serving Prime Minister was indicted in November last year and was charged with one count of bribery, and three counts of fraud and breach of trust. 

Netanyahu has denied all three cases and states that they are politically motivated and are an ‘attempted coup.’ He is the country’s first sitting Prime Minister to be charged with a crime. He has been ordered to appear at the Jerusalem District Court for the first hearing on March 27, a mere two weeks after the country’s next election. The panel will be headed by three judges, of whom one (Rivka Friedman-Feldman) was on former PM Olmert’s trial panel. Israel has been stuck in political limbo since December 2018. The last two elections, held in April and September last year resulted in inconclusive ballots and the next election will be held on March 2. 

Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of wrongfully accepting gifts worth nearly $264,000 from tycoons, which include champagne and cigars. He has allegedly also traded favours with Israeli media and telecom companies for positive reporting and improved coverage of his work and campaigns. 

The Israel Police started investigating Netanyahu in  December 2016 and recommended several indictments, and he was officially indicted in November on four counts in total. Following the indictment, Netanyahu was legally required to give up all his ministry portfolios except his Prime Minister position.