The Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has described corruption charges levelled against him as an “attempted coup” against his government.
Benjamin Netanyahu had in a statement he released on Thursday 21st November 2019, claimed that the indictment stemmed from “false accusations” and a systematically “tainted investigation”, the UK Evening Standard reports.
Accordimg to the report, the embattled Prime Minister he spoke after the attorney general announced his indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three long-running corruption cases.
Mr Netanyahu was unable to form a government following unprecedented back-to-back elections this year, and a third vote could be held within months.
Following a three-year investigation, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Mr Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime.
Mandelblit rejected accusations that his decision was politically motivated and said he had acted solely out of professional considerations.
“A day in which the attorney general decides to serve an indictment against a seated prime minister for serious crimes of corrupt governance is a heavy and sad day, for the Israeli public and for me personally,” he told reporters.
According to the indictment, Mr Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favours with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favourable coverage on a popular news site.
Under Israeli law, public officials are required to resign if charged with a crime.
However that law does not apply to the prime minister, who can use his office to block prosecutors and push parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution.