Key witness in Netanyahu's corruption trial begins testifying

by IANS |

Jerusalem, Nov 23 (IANS) A key prosecution witness in former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial has began testifying in court.

Nir Hefetz, a former media adviser to Netanyahu, delivered his testimony on Monday at the Jerusalem District Court, reports Xinhua news agency.

Hefetz described Netanyahu, the longest serving Israeli Prime Minister, as a "control freak" obsessed with his public image in the press, Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported.

"Netanyahu spent at least as much of his time on media as he spent on security issues," he told the court.

The former advisor's testimony supported the prosecutor's charges, according to which Netanyahu abused his power when he had served as both the premier and Communication Minister between 2014 and 2017.

In the case known as "Case 4000", Netanyahu is accused of giving regulatory and financial benefits to Shaul Elovitch, the former control-holder of Walla and Bezeq, Israel's largest telecom company, in return for favourable coverage on Walla.

Netanyahu also appeared in court, but left after the beginning of the testimony.

He is facing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases.

He denied all the allegations, claiming they are part of a "witch hunt".

His trial was opened in May 2020.

Netanyahu is the first Prime Minister who was indicted with criminal charges while still in office.

As Israel's longest-serving leader, Netanyahu was ousted earlier this year after 12 consecutive years in power.

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