The Yerushalayim District Court on Sunday informed attorneys for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that his corruption trial, set to open this week, will be postponed for at least two weeks. The decision came after Justice Minister Amir Ohana overnight declared a state of emergency in the court system, because of the coronavirus crisis.
With gatherings limited to no more than ten people in an enclosed space and a requirement to place distance – two meters is recommended – between individuals, conducting a major case like a corruption trial for a Prime Minister is impractical. The court system will mostly be shuttered, except for emergency matters. As a result, Netanyahu’s case will not be heard until May 24, at the earliest.
All arms of the justice system, including courts, collections (hotzaah lapo’al), and state prosecutors and defense attorneys will operate on an emergency basis only. The only services that will operate as usual will be administrative detention, parole, and urgent petitions to the High Court – and even these will operate with severe restrictions.
Meretz head MK Nitzan Horowitz said that the declaration of a state of emergency in the justice system needed to be evaluated objectively, to determine if it had anything to do with the postponement of Netanyahu’s trial. “We cannot trust the determination of a Prime Minister accused of a crime,” he wrote in a social media post. “We will stand firm that all the procedures against him take place in court and in the Knesset. We cannot suspend the justice system, even in an emergency situation.”