Court denies Netanyahu request to skip trial opening
Jerusalem: An Israeli court on Wednesday denied a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be excused from attending the start of his impending corruption trial.
The ruling by the Jerusalem District Court, where the first hearing is to be held on Sunday, cited a clause in Israeli criminal law stating that “a person may not be tried on criminal charges except in his presence”.
Netanyahu’s legal team on Tuesday asked the court to allow Netanyahu’s absence from the formal reading of the charges against him, despite written objections by the state attorney’s office.
The premier’s presence in the court requires five bodyguards, his lawyers wrote, meaning the hearing would not be able to take place “within the limitations set by the health ministry due to the coronavirus pandemic”.
Netanyahu’s lawyers insisted that Sunday’s hearing was “technical” and there was “no need for the prime minister to attend”.
The prosecution’s real reason for insisting Netanyahu be in court was “a media campaign seeking to show the prime minister in the dock”, the lawyers claimed in their request, seen by AFP.
The court’s ruling on Wednesday, published by the justice ministry, was unequivocal.
“We reject the request of the petitioner to be absent from the reading (of the charges),” it said. – AFP