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Netanyahu corruption trial postponed after state of emergency shuts down courts

ISRAELI premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on three cases of corruption has been postponed after a state of emergency was declared in the country’s courts today.

It means that the beleaguered Prime Minister will not appear in front of judges on Tuesday with the hearing rescheduled for May 24.

Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana announced that the emergency measures were being implemented to counter the spread of coronavirus. It will mean court activity will be restricted to urgent hearings.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said the decision was taken “as part of the national effort” to contain the outbreak following recommendations from the Health Ministry.

The move has raised a few eyebrows in Israel. Mr Ohana is a close ally of Mr Nethanyahu and had only expanded his powers to halt court activity on Thursday, days after a judge dismissed a bid to have the corruption hearing postponed.

Mr Netanyahu faces three separate cases against him.

In one, known as case 1,000, he is accused of taking bribes in the form of gifts from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood film producer, and James Packer, an Australian billionaire, in return for actions benefiting Mr Milchan.

In case 2,000 he is accused of promoting a legislative Bill that would limit the financial damages to a newspaper owned by Arnon Mozes in exchange for positive coverage in his media outlets.

The third charge, known as case 4,000 involves an “an illegal arrangement between Mr Netanyahu and Saul Elovitch, owner of the news and media website Walla.”

It is alleged that Mr Netanyahu abused his position as communications minister to pass regulations benefiting Mr Elovitch in return for favourable press coverage.

The Movement for Quality Government urged the attorney general to scrap the new regulations, warning: “This is a temporary minister in a temporary government that has never received the public’s trust.”


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