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Arnon Milchan, witness in Netanyahu trial, said avoiding coming to Israel to testify

Reportedly citing poor health, Hollywood producer claims prosecution has ability to prove charges without him appearing in court; prosecutors push back

Arnon Milchan poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Widows,' showing as part of the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival in London, on October 10, 2018. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Arnon Milchan poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Widows,' showing as part of the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival in London, on October 10, 2018. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood film producer who is a key witness in former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, is trying to avoid testifying, according to a Wednesday report.

Milchan notified the prosecution that he was not interested in coming to Israel and testifying at the trial, citing his poor health, and claiming they do not need him to prove the charges anyway, Channel 13 news reported.

Prosecutors expressed their displeasure with Milchan’s message, and responded by saying that every witness must testify, the network said.

Case 1000 — one of the three cases Netanyahu faces charges in — involves suspicions that he illicitly accepted gifts including cigars and champagne from two billionaires, Milchan and Australian magnate James Packer.

Milchan was not charged in the case, while Netanyahu was indicted for fraud and breach of trust. The ex-premier is also charged with fraud in the other two cases, and bribery in one of them. He denies all wrongdoing.

Netanyahu has also been accused in the past of speaking to Milchan despite the indictments, which reportedly had him commit to not having contact with any witnesses in the case.

Arnon Milchan (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in the Knesset on March 28, 2005. (Flash90/ File)

There have been other alleged ties between Netanyahu’s defense team and Milchan since the indictments against the former prime minister.

Planned court discussions were canceled last week as well to allow state prosecutors to complete an investigation into claims of widespread illicit hacking by police using NSO Group’s powerful Pegasus software, among other advanced technologies. Judge Moshe Bar-Am then tested positive for COVID.

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