Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded not guilty on Monday to corruption expenses on the resumption of his trial, six weeks earlier than voters once more head to the polls to go judgment on his management.
“I confirm the written answer submitted in my name,” Netanyahu mentioned, standing earlier than the three-judge panel within the closely guarded Jerusalem District Court.
He was referring to a doc his legal professionals gave the court docket final month by which they argued that Netanyahu, 71, was not guilty of expenses of bribery, breach of belief and fraud.
Wearing a coronavirus masks, Netanyahu, the primary serving Israeli chief to be charged with a criminal offense, appeared intent on projecting an air of enterprise as standard, thanking the court docket and leaving with out rationalization some 20 minutes into the session.
Netanyahu was indicted in 2019 in long-running circumstances involving items from millionaire buddies and for allegedly looking for regulatory favours for media tycoons in return for beneficial protection.
On getting into the courtroom, Netanyahu sat in a nook together with his legal professionals, his again to cameras. The session itself was not broadcast however reporters may monitor a closed-circuit feed elsewhere within the constructing.
His fast departure from the court docket constructing appeared geared toward exhibiting the general public that he would not permit the trial to intrude with authorities enterprise as Israel begins to emerge from a month-long coronavirus lockdown.
At the session, Netanyahu sat, arms crossed, and coughed sometimes into his masks, earlier than taking it off to sip water.
Last May, on the opening of his trial, Netanyahu placed on a show of defiance that opponents condemned as a problem to the rule of legislation.
Before that session received underneath manner, Netanyahu delivered a speech from a podium within the hall, condemning his prosecution as a left-wing witch hunt geared toward ousting a right-wing prime minister as a phalanx of cupboard officers stood at his aspect.
This time, he issued a public attraction to supporters to keep away, citing excessive contagion numbers within the coronavirus pandemic.
They largely heeded his name, whereas dozens of opponents, some holding indicators studying “crime minister”, demanded his resignation at a protest they held close to the court docket constructing.
Israel will maintain its fourth parliamentary election in two years on March 23, with Netanyahu’s dealing with of the well being disaster and his alleged corruption the principle points stoking weekly protests towards him.
Opinion polls present the race too shut to name, as right-wing rivals and centre-left opponents muster towards Israel’s longest-serving chief. Netanyahu has been prime minister repeatedly since 2009 after a primary time period from 1996 to 1999.