Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu in court, pleads not guilty

Benjamin Netanyahu is the first serving Israeli prime minister to appear in court on trial, as he denied corruption charges levied against him.

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

“I confirm the written answer submitted in my name,” Netanyahu said, standing before a panel of three judges in a heavily-guarded Jerusalem District Court.

He was referring to a document his lawyers gave the court last month in which they argued he was not guilty of charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud.

Netanyahu has been indicted in three cases, known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000:

Case 1,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: he is accused of receiving gifts – mainly cigars and bottles of champagne – from powerful businessmen in exchange for favours.

Case 2,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: Mr Netanyahu is accused of offering to help improve the circulation of Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot in exchange for positive coverage.

Case 4,000 – Bribery, fraud and breach of trust: as PM and minister of communications at the time of the alleged offence, Netanyahu is accused of promoting regulatory decisions favourable to the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage by Mr Elovitch’s Walla news site

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