Jerusalem: Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit opened on Wednesday a series of pre-indictment hearings to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ahead of possible criminal indictments over corruption cases, according to Department of Justice.
Netanyahu will not attend the hearings and will be represented by a team of about ten of Israel’s top lawyers.
The hearings are a chance for Netanyahu’s lawyers to persuade Mandelblit not indict Netanyahu over bribery, fraud, and breaches of trust, reports Xinhua news agency.
The four-day hearings will firstly focus on a bribery case dubbed by the police “Case 4000.” On Sunday, “Case 1000” will be discussed before “Case 2000” will be discussed on Monday.
In “Case 4000,” Netanyahu is suspected of taking bribes from Shaul Elovitch, a former control-holder of Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecom company, by giving Bezeq financial and regulatory benefits.
During the alleged offences, Netanyahu was the Communication Minister in addition to his capacity as Prime Minister. He had intervened with regulators to assist Bezeq, the Attorney General said.
In exchange, Elovitch, a close friend of Netanyahu, allegedly required Walla, a news site controlled by Elovitch, to provide favorable coverage of the Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu.
In “Case 1000,” Netanyahu and his family allegedly received expensive cigars, champagne, and jewelry worth about one million new shekels (about 268,200 US dollars) from the Israeli businessman and Hollywood tycoon Arnon Milchan between 2007 and 2016.
In “Case 2000,” Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel’s largest newspapers, allegedly held talks over an “exchange deal,” in which Netanyahu would receive favorable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as “a political witch hunt.”