The next phase of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, the evidentiary stage, has been scheduled to start on April 5, the Jerusalem District Court said on Monday, meaning the court will hear witnesses only after Israel’s March 23 election.
The three-judge panel did not specify the rationale underlying their decision, which follows a request earlier this month by the premier’s attorneys, asking to postpone the evidentiary stage by “three or four months” so that it would begin only after the election.
According to the court’s decision, it will meet for three full days a week starting April 5.
In a separate decision also issued on Monday, the court dismissed a claim advanced by the premier’s attorneys that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit did not approve in advance the investigative actions in Netanyahu’s cases, as required by the Basic Law on the Government.
The judges said they found flaws in the process, but that these didn’t justify disqualifying evidence.
Netanyahu, who is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases, appeared in court on February 8 to respond to the charges against him, and plead not guilty.
The opening of the premier’s trial last May followed years of investigations, deliberations and legal proceedings that eventually took place during the course of three election campaigns, capped by a last-minute delay due to the coronavirus.
Since the premier’s trial kicked off last May, it has been postponed several times in response to a series of requests made by Netanyahu’s defense counsel. The most recent request was made on February 8, when Netanyahu appeared in court.
Source: Netael Bandel – HAARETZ