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Netanyahu pleads not guilty as corruption trial resumes

Israel,Politics

Author : Indo Asian News Service

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Jerusalem, Feb 9 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty at the resumption of his corruption trial in Jerusalem.

Wearing a black mask, Netanyahu on Monday appeared in front of a three-judge panel at the Jerusalem District Court to officially deny the allegations against him, reports Xinhua news agency.

"I confirm the written answer submitted in my name," the Prime Minister said, referring to a document submitted by his lawyers in which they rejected the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

He left after about 20 minutes without providing an explanation, while his lawyers continued to argue on his behalf.

The Hebrew-language Ha'aretz newspaper reported that the judges approved his departure.

His lawyers, Boaz Ben Zur and Amit Hadad, argued that constitutional procedures had been breached.

The prosecution rejected the allegation and said the opening of the investigation was approved by Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit.

Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister stood trial over corruption charges in three separate cases.

According to his indictment, he accepted luxurious gifts from wealthy friends and offered regulatory benefits to media tycoons in return for favourable media coverage.

The 71-year-old leader has repeatedly that the allegations are part of "a witch hunt" orchestrated by the "leftist" media.

Netanyahu is the first serving Prime Minister to stand to trial in Israel.

On March 23, Israel will hold its fourth general elections in two years.

Netanyahu is handling his trial while leading the struggle to curb the coronavirus spread and the ensuing economic crisis.

He is facing weekly demonstrations throughout Israel calling him to resign.

--IANS

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