JERUSALEM: Israel’s PM denies graft during a brief court appearance, as his graft trial resumed weeks ahead of a fourth national election within two years.
Netanyahu, Israel’s first indicted prime minister, was formally accused last year of accepting inappropriate gifts and trading regulatory services with media figures for positive coverage.
He forced to come in person to respond to the accusations after formally submitting his plea of not guilt in writing last month.
“I confirmed the written answer on my behalf,” said Israel’s longest serving prime minister after Jerusalem court judge Rivka Feldman Friedman asked him to answer the charges brought against him.
Netanyahu was referring a Jan. 18 court by his defense team that said “the prime minister denies all charges” in each of the three separate cases against him.
The combative 71-year-old prime minister, who previously blasted the accusations of “fabrication and ridiculous”, spent just 20 minutes in Monday’s hearing, walking in and out amid a heavy security operation and dozens of demonstrators.
Israel’s PM denies graft and repeatedly claiming to being a victim of witch hunts.
The trial lasted several hours in his absence. Lawyers for Boaz Ben Zur and Amit Hadad accused Netanyahu’s Attorney General Avay Mandelblit of wrongdoing.
They claim elements of the investigation found without the necessary permission.
The three-judge panel then ruled that they would consider the appeal before proceeding with the prosecutor’s case.
This could add to the delays that keep Netanyahu out of court until the March 23 election.
The last time Netanyahu appeared in court nine months ago. He recently won a political victory by forming a coalition government with electoral rival after three inconclusive national polls.
But the troubled coalition was short-lived and collapsed in December. Netanyahu fully describes it as serial dishonesty.
Israel’s parliament insists court to postpone case
Israeli parliament speaker Yariv Levin, loyal to Netanyahu of his right-wing Likud party, insisted that the court postpone the trial.
Furthermore “He will help intervene in the elections,” he told the right-wing Israeli newspaper on Sunday.
It is unclear whether the complex process will affect the prime minister’s chances of re-elect in March.
Several recent polls have brought Likud to the lead. But it is far from certain that it can form a 61-seat majority with its conservative and religious allies.
The charges against Netanyahu divided into three separate cases.