Netanyahu pre-indictment hearing ends

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(Xinhua/JINI)

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A four-day hearing into allegations of corruption against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to an end on Monday, one of his lawyers said.

“The hearing ended tonight,” the premier’s lawyer, Yossi Ashkenazy, told reporters.

“We presented all our arguments which must, logically, confirm that all the indictments must be annulled,” he added.

Only Netanyahu’s lawyers and not the premier himself attended the closed-door hearing, which provided a final chance to convince Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit he should not be indicted.

The hearing covered three separate cases in which Netanyahu is accused of acting on behalf of wealthy supporters and businessmen in exchange for gifts and favourable news coverage.

It came as attempts by Netanyahu — who has been in office for a total of over 13 years – to form a unity government following September 17 elections are at an impasse.

Netanyahu has denied the allegations against him, calling the corruption investigation a “witch-hunt” and alleging it has been motivated by his enemies’ desire to force him from office.

The premier had asked that the hearing be broadcast live because he has “nothing to hide”.

Mandelblit dismissed the request in no uncertain terms, saying the hearing was intended to convince the legal authorities, not the public.

The attorney general’s deliberations on whether to issue the indictments are expected to continue for weeks.

Netanyahu is not required to step down as prime minister if indicted, only if convicted with all appeals exhausted.

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