Netanyahu's Corruption Trial to Resume February 8 After Being Postponed Due to COVID Lockdown

Judges say that the PM will be required to attend the hearing and respond to the indictment against him

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media ahead of the first hearing in his corruption trial, Jerusalem, May 24, 2020.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media ahead of the first hearing in his corruption trial, Jerusalem, May 24, 2020. Credit: YONATHAN SINDEL / POOL / AFP
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The next hearing in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial will be held on February 8, the panel of judges presiding over the prime minister’s trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust said on Monday.

On Friday, the court announced that Netanyahu's hearing, initially scheduled for Wednesday, would be postponed “indefinitely,” citing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, even though, just days prior, the court had rejected a request made by the premier’s defense counsel to postpone the hearing. 

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Netanyahu is charged for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Jerusalem District Court judges Rivka Friedman-Feldman, Moshe Bar-Am and Oded Shaham said that Netanyahu and fellow defendants Shaul and Iris Elovitch and Arnon (Noni) Mozes, will be required to appear in person and respond to the indictments submitted against them. 

As part of the tightened lockdown measures, which went into effect on Friday and will last for at least 14 days, courts are partially closed, but judges can independently decide whether to hold hearings in cases they view as urgent. 

Last week, after state prosecutors filed an amended indictment against Netanyahu at the request of his defense counsel, the request submitted by the premier’s lawyers to postpone the upcoming hearing revealed that they are once again considering seeking immunity from prosecution, which requires Knesset approval. In November, Netanyahu’s office denied a Haaretz report that the premier planned to submit a second request for immunity from prosecution, after having had withdrawn his first request last January, to mitigate damage to Likud's election campaign, among other reasons. At the time, Netanyahu said "The Publication is incorrect and baseless."     

The amended indictment filed last week lists 230 demands made by Netanyahu and his family to skew coverage of them on the Walla news website, and indicates that Netanyahu was directly or indirectly involved in 155 of these instances. The indictment also alleges that Netanyahu initiated 85 of the cases without any request by family members.

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