Netanyahu's corruption trial delay denied by Israeli court
Netanyahu's lawyers had appealed for a delay, saying they needed more time to review evidence. State prosecutors responded that they oppose any delays and the court accepted their position.
In overruling the request, the presiding judge wrote that the first session on March 17 was a procedural reading of the charges only and the defendant's response was not needed, therefore there was no justification for a delay.
Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in connection to a series of scandals that include accepting expensive gifts from wealthy friends and offering to exchange favours with powerful media moguls.
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The long-ruling Israeli leader denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a media-orchestrated witch hunt.
His legal troubles stood at the centre of last week's national election, Israel's third in less than a year. Like elections last April and September, this one ended inconclusively.
Netanyahu's opponent, Benny Gantz, refused to sit with him in government and appears poised to push for legislation in the incoming parliament that would bar anyone indicted for a crime being able to lead a government - in effect disqualifying Netanyahu from leading the country.
Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving leader, is desperate to remain in office because installing a new government would give him an important political boost and potentially allow him to legislate his way out of the legal quagmire.
Amit Haddad, one of Netanyahu's lawyers, had said he would seek a delay in the start of the trial. He said the request was “technical” and meant to give the defence time to review investigative materials that it still has not received.
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