Netanyahu grilled ‘for several hours’ in graft probe

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police on Thursday evening in connection with two separate investigations into alleged corruption, a police statement said.

“We confirm that the prime minister was questioned today for several hours at his Jerusalem residence,” the Hebrew language statement said adding, that the interrogation was carried out by detectives of national fraud and serious crimes squad.

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It gave no further details. Israeli media said that the detectives arrived at the house shortly before 5.00 pm (1500 GMT) and left about four hours later. Netanyahu has previously been questioned four times as part of the investigations.

He is suspected to have received luxury gifts from wealthy supporters, including Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, a longtime friend who reportedly sent boxes of expensive cigars and other items with a value of tens of thousands of dollars. Milchan was again questioned in September.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem July 10, 2016. (Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem July 10, 2016. (Reuters)

Secret deal

The second affair over which Netanyahu has faced police questioning involves suspicions he sought a secret deal for favorable coverage with the publisher of top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot.

The alleged deal, not believed to have been finalised, would have seen Netanyahu receive positive coverage in return for helping curb Yediot's competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

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Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents.

Earlier in the week, Netanyahu confidants Yitzhak Molcho and David Shimron, partners in a law firm and both relatives of the premier, were questioned by police as part of a probe into suspected corruption around the purchase of German submarines. Netanyahu himself has not been named as a suspect in the submarine case.

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