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Netanyahu’s corruption trial to begin on March 17, Israeli Justice Ministry says

Netanyahu’s corruption trial to begin on March 17, Israeli Justice Ministry says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial will start on March 17, two weeks after Israel holds its third national election in less than a year, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday. The PM, who heads the right-wing Likud party, is fighting for his political life in a March 2 election, after inconclusive ballots in April and September.

Netanyahu, 70, the first sitting Israeli prime minister to be charged with a crime, has denied any wrongdoing in the three corruption cases against him. Charges, which were formally filed with the court three weeks ago, include bribery, breach of trust and fraud.

The ministry said Netanyahu, in power for the past decade and Israel’s longest-serving leader, will be required to attend the Jerusalem District Court for the first session to hear an indictment against him. A three-judge panel will hear the case.

Netanyahu is accused of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts from tycoons, and of dispensing regulatory favors in alleged bids for improved coverage by a popular news website, Reuters said.