An Israeli court on Sunday (June 16) convicted the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of fraudulently using state funds for meals, under a plea bargain which saw her admit to lesser charges. While the ruling cut short a high-profile trial, the Netanyahu family’s legal woes are far from over: the veteran premier himself faces possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the coming months.
In a deal approved by judge Avital Chen at Jerusalem magistrates’ court, Sara Netanyahu was found guilty of exploiting the mistake of another person. She was also fined 10,000 shekels ($2,800) and ordered to reimburse the state a further 45,000 shekels.
“The deal reached between the sides is worthy and appropriately reflects the deeds and their severity on the criminal level,” Chen said in his ruling. The 60-year-old, a high-profile presence at her husband’s side throughout his long tenure in office, was initially charged in June 2018 with fraud and breach of trust for buying catered meals despite the presence of a cook at the PM’s official residence.
The amended indictment, approved Sunday, dropped the graft charges. In a small room at the Jerusalem magistrates’ court, packed with journalists, Netanyahu told the judge she was aware of the charges.Her lawyer and a prosecutor then requested that the court accept the deal.
“As in every plea bargain, each side makes concessions, sometimes hard concessions,” prosecutor Erez Padan said.
“It is right and proper for the public interest to bring this case to an end.”
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17 November, 2019