Israeli attorney general to charge Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption | News | DW | 28.02.2019
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Israeli attorney general to charge Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption

Israel's attorney general is seeking graft charges against Netanyahu. The prospect of an indictment could hurt the Israeli prime minister's chances in upcoming election, where he is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

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Israeli PM accused of bribery and fraud

Israel's attorney general intends to bring charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption, the Justice Ministry said on Thursday.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he had accepted the police recommendations to file charges against the Israeli prime minister in three different corruption cases.

The indictment could deal a major blow to Netanyahu's prospects in an upcoming election in April. The Israeli leader is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

The actual filing of the reported charges, which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust, will take place only after a hearing, where Netanyahu would be given a chance to defend himself. The hearing could take place after the April 9 election.

Netanyahu would be the first Israeli prime minister to be prosecuted while in office.

Political 'witch-hunt'

Netanyahu is suspected of accepting gifts, including cigars and champagne, from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favors worth hundreds of millions of dollars to telecom giant Bezeq in return for positive press coverage in Bezeq's popular subsidiary news site Walla.

Netanyahu could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted of bribery and a maximum 3-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

The Israeli prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. Responding to the attorney general's announcement, Netanyahu said he was a victim of political "witch-hunt" aimed at influencing the upcoming election. He said the charges against him will collapse like "a house of cards."

Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party described the charges as "political persecution."

"Unilateral publication of the attorney general's announcement just a month before the elections, without giving the prime minister an opportunity to refute these false accusations, is a blatant and unprecedented intervention in the elections," Likud said in a statement.

Likud had petitioned the Supreme Court to delay the public release of the indictment until after the election. But the top court rejected the request on Thursday. 

ap/amp (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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