Netanyahu’s favours were ‘currency’, prosecutor says as corruption trial starts

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli prosecutors accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of treating favours as “currency” on Monday at the opening of a corruption trial which, along with an inconclusive election, has clouded his prospects of remaining in office.




© Reuters/RONEN ZVULUN
Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wave flags and hold a placard depicting Netanyahu, during a rally as Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes, near Jerusalem’s District Court




© Reuters/RONEN ZVULUN
A supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a headband with an image of Netanyahu, shouts slogans during a rally as Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes, near Jerusalem’s District Court

Netanyahu, who denies all wrongdoing in the three cases against him, came to Jerusalem District Court in a dark suit and black protective mask, conferring quietly with lawyers as his supporters and critics held raucous demonstrations outside.




© Reuters/AMMAR AWAD
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a speech to supporters following the announcement of exit polls in Israel’s general election at his Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem

He left before the first witness was called to testify.

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Meanwhile, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin began consulting with party heads on who might form the next coalition government – a toss-up after an inconclusive March 23 ballot gave neither the rightist Netanyahu nor his rivals a clear mandate.

“The relationship between Netanyahu and the defendants became currency, something that could be traded,” prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari said in presenting so-called Case 4000, concerning the premier’s alleged relationship with the owners of a news website.

“This currency could distort a public servant’s judgment.”

Netanyahu, who is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the first such trial of a sitting Israeli prime minister, has described himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Source: Thanks msn.com