Israeli PM Netanyahu’s trial to start March 17

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will open on March 17, just two weeks after the embattled leader tries to secure re-election, officials said Tuesday.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier and the first to be indicted while in office, has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

He denies all wrongdoing.

In a statement, the justice ministry said judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman would read out the indictment in Jerusalem, in the presence of Netanyahu.

The trial, including all possible appeals, could take years.

Israeli law says that government ministers who are subject to criminal prosecution must resign.

But this does not apply to the prime minister, meaning there are likely no legal barriers preventing Netanyahu, 70, from remaining in office should his right-wing Likud win enough support to form a government.

The March 2 poll is Israel’s third in less than a year, after two previous votes resulted in a deadlock between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz. – AFP