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Netanyahu says police and prosecutors conspired to fake a case against him as trial begins

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a tirade against the country’s justice system as his trial began yesterday.

Mr Netanyahu, who faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, is the first sitting Israeli prime minister ever to go on trial. Hundreds of protesters calling him the “crime minister” demonstrated outside his official residence, while hundreds of supporters, including leading members of his Likud party, rallied in support of him at the courthouse.

He is accused of accepting lavish gifts and offering to grant favours to powerful media moguls in exchange for favourable coverage of him and his family. He denies the charges, which come after years of scandals swirling around the family.

He told reporters as he arrived that the plot against him was political. “The objective is to depose a strong, right-wing prime minister and thus remove the nationalist camp from the leadership of the country for many years,” he declared.

Police and prosecutors had conspired to “tailor” a case against him, he said, adding that the evidence against him was “contaminated.” 

“While the media continues to deal with nonsense, with these false, trumped up cases, I will continue to lead the state of Israel,” he added.

His lawyers said they would need between two and three months to respond to the arraignment and that they needed funds to add to their legal team.

After confirming that he understood the charges — the only thing he said during the one-hour session — the prime minister is not expected to have to attend future hearings in the case, which could take years.

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