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Israel attorney general announces intention to indict Netanyahu


AFP Jerusalem
Israel's attorney general announced Thursday he intended to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a decision just weeks ahead of April elections.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a statement that he intended to charge the premier pending a hearing, where Netanyahu would be given a chance to defend himself before charges are filed.
The announcement comes ahead of April 9 elections in which Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance headed by a respected former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu, who rejects all accusations, was due to speak at 1800 GMT and his right-wing Likud party called the allegations "political persecution." "Unilateral publication of the attorney general's announcement just a month before the elections, without giving the prime minister an opportunity to refute these false accusations, is a blatant and unprecedented intervention in the elections," Likud said in a statement.
The move to indict Netanyahu will further shake up an election campaign that has already turned into a mudslinging fest.
Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of around 13 years and he would be on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving premier should he win in April.
He is not required to step down if indicted, only if convicted with all appeals exhausted.

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First Published: Feb 28 2019 | 11:00 PM IST

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