Court declines to delay start of PM Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial

March 10 (UPI) — An Israeli court on Tuesday declined to postpone the start of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s corruption trial, which is scheduled for next week.

Netanyahu, who faces charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, had sought the postponement citing prosecutors’ failure to provide evidentiary materials. He’s set to appear in court and enter a plea on March 17.

Tuesday, the three-judge court rejected the request, saying Netanyahu’s plea doesn’t depend on resolving the documentary disputes.

In January, Netanyahu became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to be indicted when prosecutors filed the charges with the Jerusalem District Court. The indictment was announced in November, but an immunity request prevented its official filing.

Prosecutors say Netanyahu improperly accepted gifts and became involved in bribery schemes in exchange for positive news coverage. The prime minister has said he’s determined to prove his innocence in court and has called the investigation “tainted and politically motivated.”

Despite the charges against him, Netanyahu won substantial support in Israel’s election earlier this month — its third in less than a year. He and opposition leader Benny Gantz are again working to form a governing coalition.

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