Evidentiary stage of Israeli PM’s trial to begin in January 2021

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Witness testimonies in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criminal trial will begin in January 2021, the Jerusalem District Court announced on Sunday.

The trial’s evidentiary stage will take place three times a week, said judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman, head of a three-judge panel, decided. The sessions will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is expected to be present at every session.

The trial has resumed on Sunday morning after a two-month break and amidst growing public criticism over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing financial crisis.

During the session, Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Segev asked for a postponement in the beginning of the trial due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We cannot investigate witnesses when the witness is wearing a mask,” he told the judges.

Netanyahu was not present as he and other defendants in the case were not obliged to attend.

Netanyahu’s trial over bribery, fraud and breach of trust began on May 24. He is accused of receiving expensive gifts from billionaire friends and exchanging regulatory benefits with the control holder of a media conglomerate in return for positive coverage in the news.

Netanyahu, the first prime minister in Israel’s history to stand to trial while in office, denies the allegations, charging they are part of “a witch hunt.”

Israel’s longest-serving leader is facing also a widespread public anger over his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Enditem

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