Police recommend indicting Israeli PM Netanyahu in corruption case

Police recommend indicting Israeli PM Netanyahu in corruption case

Police recommend indicting Israeli PM Netanyahu in corruption case

Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara for bribery and other offences, the third such recommendation against the premier in recent months.

According to a police statement, authorities found evidence of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

"The police recommendations regarding me and my wife don't surprise anyone", Netanyahu said in a statement.

Police have already recommended indicting Mr Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases, one involving accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second revolving around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a newspaper in return for positive coverage.

Netanyahu's manipulation of Walla! has been widely reported by local media, but last week a fuller expose on Israel's Channel 10 featured both former and present employees of the news site describing in detail how stories were changed or completely removed if they did not flatter the Prime Minister and his wife. Police say Mrs Netanyahu coordinated the coverage.

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Investigators have questioned Netanyahu several times in connection with this case, partly based on the testimony of Nir Hefetz, a former adviser to the prime minister who turned witness. The prime minister has argued that he is the victim of a left-wing and media conspiracy to topple his conservative government. Now, the Israeli attorney general should decide whether to bring indictments in the case.

Police said Sunday their investigation found that between 2012 and 2017, "the prime minister and his confidantes crudely and consistently, at times on a daily basis, intervened in the content published by the Walla news website". "These recommendations were determined and leaked even before the investigations began", he said. Hefetz reportedly gave the police text messages and incriminating recordings indicating a quid pro quo relationship between Netanyahu and Bezeq Group.

That act launched what is today known as Case 4000.

A week later, his wife was indicted for allegedly misusing a total of 350,000 shekels (around US$96,000) in official funds to order extravagant meals at their official residence in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013.

"A prime minister with so many criminal cases around him can not continue in his job and must resign", said Avi Gabbay, the head of the Labor party. Those benefits included restricting competition in the Israeli ground-line phone market, among other decisions taken by Netanyahu in the years he served as communications minister. Hefetz was, police say, desperate to do something about the Elovitch investigation he believed was underway.

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