Prosecutor’s Office: Netanyahu Must Be Present at First Day of Trial

View of the Yerushalayim District Court. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Tel Aviv District Attorney Securities Department Director Attorney Yehudit Tirosh informed the Yerushalayim District Court that the Prosecutor’s Office opposes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request to absent himself from the hearing on the indictment in his case.

“The Prosecutor sees no room to change from the court’s decisions regarding the defendants’ attendance at his arraignment hearing,” the response said.

Netanyahu has not officially made such a request, but a spokesman for Netanyahu confirmed on Monday night that he might file such a motion with the Yerushalayim District Court. If he does, it will be because the opening session is just a technical discussion to review discovery issues and set a schedule for witnesses.

The spokesman noted, however, that in the past, many top public officials have skipped the first hearing, and in Netanyahu’s case, the “real” trial with witnesses will begin in three months to a year. Of course, Netanyahu would have to attend whenever called as a witness.

The spokesman also noted that Netanyahu’s large security contingent would negatively impact how many lawyers and media could attend the hearing, and that bringing this contingent would be a waste of resources.

Netanyahu critics claim that the prime minister is trying to avoid being photographed in court, particularly so early in his new term.

The public corruption trial will cover three cases of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.