המליאה דנה באישור לקריאה שנייה ושלישית את התיקון לחוק יסוד
Netanyahu at the Knesset plenum
Photo: Knesset
Netanyahu at the Knesset plenum

Court rejects PM's request to skip opening hearing of graft trial

Judges insist defendants must be present for readout of charges against them, as is procedure; PM's confidants concede and say he will attend his trial on Sunday

Yael Freidson, Itamar Eichner |
Published: 05.20.20 , 18:12
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legal defense team to exempt the premier from appearing in front of the court at the opening hearing of his criminal trial due this Sunday.
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  • Judges argued the law requires defendants to be present for the readout of the charges against them.
    המליאה דנה באישור לקריאה שנייה ושלישית את התיקון לחוק יסודהמליאה דנה באישור לקריאה שנייה ושלישית את התיקון לחוק יסוד
    Netanyahu at the Knesset plenum
    (Photo: Knesset)
    Netanyahu's attorneys argued that he has already read and understood the charges against him, and therefore may be excused from announcing it publicly in court.
    The court insisted that this a standard part of every procedure and that the premier's attendance at the hearing is necessary.
    The judges have noted that the law does allow a defendant to be absent from the hearing, but the prime minister's case did not meet the criteria to allow such an exception.
    בנימין נתניהו כנסת חיטוי מיקרופוןבנימין נתניהו כנסת חיטוי מיקרופון
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu, who is constantly surrounded by five bodyguards, claimed that the court will not be able to adhere to Health Ministry's social distancing guidelines due to his extensive security detail and that exempting him from the hearing will save the taxpayer the massive costs involved in securing his arrival to the court.
    The court dismissed the claim and instructed the relevant authorities to prepare the court hall to meet both the Health Ministry's coronavirus guidelines and Netanyahu's security demands.
    Netanyahu's confidants announced later Wednesday that the prime minister will attend his trial on Sunday.
    בנימין נתניהובנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    The prime minister is being investigated in three separate cases: Case 1000 concerns illicit gifts Netanyahu allegedly received from business moguls Arnon Milchan and James Packer.
    Case 2000 concerns alleged discussions Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes had over a quid pro quo of positive media for the prime minister in return for Netanyahu weakening Yedioth's main rival newspaper Israel Hayom.
    Case 4000 involves an alleged plan to ease regulations for telecommunications mogul and Bezeq chief Shaul Elovitch in return for positive coverage on his Walla! news website.
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