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Israel’s Netanyahu back in court for graft trial

Published: Updated:

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s graft trial resumed Tuesday, with his ex-spin doctor due on the witness stand, but the defense has asked the highly anticipated testimony be delayed.

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Netanyahu, now opposition leader in parliament after he was ousted by a broad coalition of rivals in June, arrived at the Jerusalem court house without the large security contingent and crowds of rival protesters that were on hand when he appeared as premier.

He has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate indictments that collectively accuse him of accepting improper gifts and illegally trading regulatory favor with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.

The testimony of his former spokesman Nir Hefetz was expected to shed light on the ex-premier’s dealings with the Bezeq telecommunications group.

In the Bezeq case, considered the most serious, Netanyahu is accused of offering regulatory benefits that could have been worth millions to the company in return for politically advantageous coverage on the group’s Walla news site.

Netanyahu’s lawyers argued they were unprepared to respond to Hefetz’s testimony following recent press revelations about the evidence he might share.

The prosecution has said that while it regrets the recent leaks about Hefetz’s expected evidence, his testimony should go ahead.

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