Netanyahu Attacks Justice System at Opening of His Corruption Trial

Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel's first sitting prime minister to face trial on criminal corruption charges on Sunday.

He arrived at the Jerusalem District Court for the opening session in the trial flanked by cabinet ministers from his Likud party who came to show their support.

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He is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases and the court session was dedicated in part to an acknowledgement that the prime minister and the three other defendants in the cases had read and understood the charges. The prime minister, and the other defendants, Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes and the former controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications company, Shaul Elovitch, and his wife, Iris, all deny the charges against them.

Netanyahu, surrounded by Likud ministers, speaks at the opening of his trial, May 24, 2020.AFP

One of Netanyahu’s lawyers, Micha Fettman, confirmed to the court that Netanyahu had read and understood the indictments against him. Fettman asked that the first hearing of evidence in the case only to be held in March of next year to enable defense counsel to review the investigative material and prepare for trial.

The three-judge panel set the next session in the case for July 19, 2020 to hear preliminary pretrial motions. Three cases, formally dubbed Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000, are being heard by Judges Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Oded Shaham and Moshe Bar-Am. The lead prosecutor in the case, Deputy State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, entered the courtroom accompanied by bodyguards.