Netanyahu expands legal team as indictment announcement looms

Netanyahu expands legal team as indictment announcement looms

High-profile attorney Pini Rubin added to PM’s defense team, as attorney general prepares to announce whether the premier will be charged in corruption cases

Attorney Pini Rubin (Flash 90)
Attorney Pini Rubin (Flash 90)

With the attorney general gearing up to announce a possible indictment against him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has beefed up his defense team, hiring prominent defense attorney Pini Rubin, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday.

Rubin has previously represented a number of high-profile clients, including Arnon Milchan, a movie producer named as having given Netanyahu hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of champagne and cigars, in one of the three corruption investigations against the prime minister.

Rubin will join attorneys Navot Ben Zur, Amit Hadad and Former Tel Aviv District Court judge Oded Mudrick on the prime minister’s defense team.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is currently reviewing the cases and weighing whether to announce an indictment against Netanyahu before April’s elections, which the premier has called on him not to do.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on February 3, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AFP)

Media reports have indicated that Mandelblit will announce his decision on a possible indictment, pending a hearing, later in February.

Earlier this month, Mandelblit rejected a request from Netanyahu’s legal team that sought to postpone the announcement until after the elections.

In a letter to Netanyahu’s lawyers, Mandelblit said there was “no impediment” to publishing his decision before the election, and suspending the legal process would “violate the principle of equality before the law.”

Mandelblit added that he would issue a decision “as soon as possible,” but gave no specifics.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a State Control committee meeting in the Knesset on December 3, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery in the three separate cases, including one that involves accusations he gave out regulatory favors in exchange for positive media coverage.

In a potential second blow to Netanyahu, Mandelblit said last week that the prime minister may have to return some $300,000 he received from a cousin and another benefactor to cover his legal fees.

Polls show Netanyahu is likely to win the elections despite the investigations hanging over him, but a move to indict him pending a hearing could shake up the campaign.

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