TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced Wednesday with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and other top law enforcement officials in his long-awaited pre-indictment hearing on a series of corruption scandals.
Netanyahu’s attorneys met Wednesday with Israel’s attorney general and other top law enforcement officials in Netanyahu’s long-awaited pre-indictment hearing on a series of corruption scandals.
The hearing is the last step before formal charges are pressed and has been delayed many times already. It looms large over Netanyahu’s efforts to extend his political career, CBC reported.
The sessions are expected to last four days and they come just two weeks after Israel’s second inconclusive election of the year.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has recommended indicting Netanyahu on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in three different cases. The hearing offers Netanyahu’s legal team a chance to present its defense in hopes of convincing authorities to drop the charges.
A decision on whether to indict is expected by the end of the year.
The scandals have engulfed Netanyahu’s family and his inner circle, with at least three former close confidants turning state’s witnesses and testifying against him.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have long been known for their penchant for an expensive lifestyle and questionable use of public funds. Mrs. Netanyahu was convicted of misusing state funds after she reached a plea bargain settling allegations that she overspent some $100,000 US of state money on lavish meals. She’d previously been indicted for graft, fraud and breach of trust.
According to the Guardian, Netanyahu could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum three-year term for fraud and breach of trust.
The first case, known as Case 1,000, involves allegations of receiving gifts, including cigars, champagne and jewellery, from billionaires, among them the Australian casino operator James Packer, allegedly in exchange for favours. In Case 2,000, Netanyahu is accused of colluding with the country’s top-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, to hurt its competition in exchange for favourable coverage.
In the third and most damning, Case 4,000, Netanyahu is accused of offering incentives to the Israeli telecoms provider Bezeq in exchange for positive stories on an online news website it owns.
The pre-trial hearing is not a court appearance, and Netanyahu is not expected to be present. Instead, it grants his legal team a last-ditch chance to convince the attorney general to either scrap or reduce the charges.
Hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday, but Mandelblit could delay his decision until December or even later. Even then, it could take months before his trial begins.