Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told a Jerusalem court he is not guilty of one charge of bribery and three charges of fraud and breach of trust.
The appearance was Netanyahu’s second in court since his corruption trial formally began in May.
Netanyahu, wearing a black mask, entered the court shortly after 9 a.m. and stood to confirm that the pleas of not guilty, submitted earlier in written form by his lawyers, represented his reply to the charges.
"I confirm the written answer submitted in my name," the Prime Minister told the judges.
Netanyahu, who is the first sitting Israeli Prime Minister to appear in court as a defendant, is charged in three separate cases.
In the most serious case, Netanyahu is accused of advancing regulatory benefits worth more than 1 billion shekels (more than $300 million) in favor of a telecommunications company controlled by a millionaire friend, prosecutors say. In exchange, Netanyahu received favorable coverage from a news site, even influencing wording and story selection, prosecutors allege.
Monday’s court session is also discussing the trial’s timetable, in particular when full evidentiary proceedings should take place.
Israelis vote in a general election in six weeks’ time, and in a possible indication of the Prime Minister’s desire to delay the prosecution opening and calling of witnesses, one of his most loyal party allies has called on judges to postpone further hearings until after the vote on March 23.
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