The State Prosecutor’s Office on Monday told a Jerusalem court it opposes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to postpone the start of his criminal trial, set to begin on March 17.
The response comes a day after the prime minister - who is facing criminal charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust - submitted a request through his attorney Amit Hadad to the Jerusalem District Court, asking for the proceedings to be delayed by 45 days due to not receiving trial material on time.
Tax, fraud and financial crimes division said the state is not asking for the defendant to respond to the accusations on the trial’s opening day, but requests for all sides to be present during the hearing.
Netanyahu’s lawyer sighted technical reasons for the request claiming evidentiary material requested by the defense team months ago has still not been delivered to them.
"A few months ago, an indictment has been filed against the prime minister, only to this day we still have not received trial material," Netanyahu’s representative said. "Therefore, we appealed to the court to postpone the hearing for technical reasons, so that we receive the trial material before appearing in court.”
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu last November over corruption investigations listed as cases 4000, 1000 and 2000. According to the indictment, Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.
Netanyahu says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch-hunt” by the media and has denied any wrongdoing.
Associated Press contributed to this report