Court said considering moving Netanyahu trial location due to chaos it causes
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Court said considering moving Netanyahu trial location due to chaos it causes

Officials discuss relocating hearings to building in downtown Jerusalem or convention center because court unable to function when PM present

Officers stand guard as a convoy transporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24, 2020 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Officers stand guard as a convoy transporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24, 2020 (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Court officials are considering moving the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Jerusalem District Court to a different location due to the turmoil caused by having to secure the site for the premier, Channel 12 reported on Monday.

Netanyahu was required to attend the opening hearing of his trial on Sunday, which involved a major security operation and the closure of roads in the area around the courthouse. The court was not able hear any other cases at the time, according to the report.

The notion of moving the trial had already been discussed by senior court officials at an early meeting, with suggestions raised of holding the proceedings at a new branch of the court located in the Clal building in downtown Jerusalem, or renting a site specifically for the trial, such as the International Convention Center at the entrance to the city.

At a meeting Monday, court official reviewed the events of the previous day and in the coming weeks the courts administration, together with Jerusalem District Court President Aharon Farkash and the three judges presiding over the trial, will decided whether to relocate for the rest of the proceedings, the report said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of his trial on corruption charges, May 24, 2020. Visible behind him are two of the three judges in the case, Rivka Friedman-Feldman and Oded Shaham (Screen capture/Government Press office)

Netanyahu on Sunday became the first serving Israeli premier to stand trial, sitting on the defendant’s bench and answering “yes” to confirm he had read the corruption charges in the three cases against him.

The prime minister will be allowed to skip the next hearing, which will take place on July 19, with the judges saying he would not have to return to court until the evidence stage.

Ahead of the trial opening Netanyahu had asked for permission to skip Sunday’s session, citing, among other things, the security measures his presence would necessitate.

He asserted that the large number of security guards accompanying him would violate Health Ministry guidelines limiting the number of people in a courtroom, as part of measures to contain the coronavirus. The request was rejected and the judges said they had already taken his security detail into account when considering who would be allowed into the hearing.

Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in all the cases, as well as bribery in one of them.

Before entering the courtroom he gave a statement to media in which he charged that the cases against him are fabricated and part of an attempted “political coup” to oust him from power.

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