Israel : opening of the trial for corruption of the Benjamin Netanyahu - The Point

This Sunday opens a page for the first time in the political history of the State of Israel. Benyamin Netanyahu, whose trial begins this may 24, becomes the fir

Israel : opening of the trial for corruption of the Benjamin Netanyahu - The Point

This Sunday opens a page for the first time in the political history of the State of Israel. Benyamin Netanyahu, whose trial begins this may 24, becomes the first head of government in the country's history to face criminal charges, for corruption, during his term of office. After seventeen months of an electoral crisis during which he played his "survival policy," Benjamin Netanyahu is expected in the district court of Jerusalem for a new battle, legal this time, in order to avoid prison and clear his name.

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Benjamin Netanyahu is accustomed to first. First head of government in the history of Israel born after the creation of the country, most future-proof of the Prime ministers israelis, the most fierce opponent of Iran... But it would be well past it. Before him, Ehud Olmert, the former star of the Likud, his party, had already been indicted for corruption, but after he resigned from his mandate of Prime minister. Olmert had been found guilty of having received bribes prior to languish sixteen months in prison.

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A scenario that seeks to avoid Benyamin Netanyahu, 70, accused of having received for 700,000 shekels (180 000 euros) of cigars, champagne and jewelry from the personalities wealthy in exchange for favours, financial or personal.

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A judgment for the three cases

According to investigators, Benjamin Netanyahu would have also tried to ensure a favourable coverage by the largest daily newspaper in pay of Israel, the Yediot Aharonot. And above all, justice is suspected of having granted favors by the government could have brought millions of dollars to the boss of the israeli society of telecommunications Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage from a media group, the influential site Walla.

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Of the three cases to which Benyamin Netanyahu will be judged, it is this last that is the most explosive, but can also be the most complex. "In the classic cases of corruption, everything revolves around the money [...], but there it is corruption to get a press coverage favorable. This is unprecedented, " notes Amir Fuchs, a researcher at the Institute for democratic Israel, research centre in Jerusalem. How to prove favors media ? "This is not just to offer favourable coverage to [Netanyahu], have said good things about it [...], but given editorial control over the texts and images ", he adds.

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After months of suspense, the attorney general Avichaï Mandelblit has accused Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2019, which had been seen as a "death policy" by its detractors. But "Bibi," as the people call the Israelis, has been able to stay at the head of his party, to finish in first place in the recent legislation, to negotiate an agreement of power sharing with his rival Benny Gantz and, thus, to remain Prime minister.

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Several years of trial ?

His trial was due to open in mid-march, but the pandemic of Covid-19 has postponed the deadline of 24 may. The lawyers of Benjamin Netanyahu had asked that it does not have to be present at the opening Sunday afternoon of a trial that could stretch over several months, or even years, including possible appeals. But the court has confirmed in recent days that the Prime minister had to be present at the hearing, even if the latter is technical, with the reading of the indictments. "A person cannot be tried for alleged criminal in their presence ", insisted the magistrates.

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In Israel, the Prime minister has no legal immunity, but, unlike other elected and government officials, it does not have to resign or to withdraw the time of his trial. For Yuval Shany, professor of law at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu will find himself in a "conflict of interest" because he is both "head of government and thus responsible for a number of important decisions that can affect the life of the people" and " accused, in their fight against the government institutions who pursue it ".

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It would therefore be in the position to lead a government, but to weaken it, hence the question for the population to know whether its decisions will be taken in the interest of the country or in the country of a Prime minister to be indicted, is professor Yuval Shany.

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After the first day of the trial, the three judges of the court of Jerusalem chosen by the supreme Court in the groundbreaking case will be able to ask the Prime minister to attend the various hearings. He pleads his innocence, denouncing a plot by the justice against him, but could also, at any time by the verdict, "negotiate a sentence" with the attorney as allowed under israeli law.

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Updated Date: 24 May 2020, 03:33

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