ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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Sara Netanyahu given okay to be present in London as Milchan testifies remotely

Court rejects several media outlets’ request for their journalists to also attend testimony of Hollywood mogul, as part of PM’s ongoing graft trial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday ruled Sara Netanyahu may attend the testimony in London of Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan, a key witness in the corruption trial of her husband, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last week, the court approved Milchan’s request to testify by video call from the Israeli embassy in London, after saying he couldn’t travel to Israel for health reasons. Prosecutors want him to take the stand remotely starting June 18.

Netanyahu’s defense attorney told the court the premier wanted to exercise his right to be present but could not clear the time to travel to London, asking for his wife to attend in his stead.

“Mrs. Netanyahu is knowledgeable and can give us indications to intervene if something is true or false,” Amit Hadad said.

He added that Netanyahu will be at the Jerusalem courtroom to watch Milchan testify.

The court rejected requests by several media outlets to have their journalists also attend the portion of the trial conducted in London, according to the Walla news site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrive at the 75th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on April 25, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Milchan is a witness in what police call Case 1000, which concerns luxury gifts received by Netanyahu and his family from wealthy benefactors, including Milchan, and quid pro quos he is accused of having provided in return. The indictment against Netanyahu alleges that he assisted Milchan with US visa issues and regulatory and tax benefits relating to his business interests.

The prosecution claims that Milchan gave the Netanyahus luxury goods — including cigars, champagne, and jewelry — in exchange for these alleged services. Netanyahu’s defense in Case 1000 has said that he was unaware his wife was receiving gifts from Milchan and another billionaire associate, James Packer.

Milchan was grilled several times by police during the investigation. He was last in Israel for questioning in 2016 and sat down with detectives overseas in 2017.

Last year, Milchan said he and his staff were facing threats and defamation in Israel by supporters of Netanyahu. According to Haaretz, Milchan recently told an unspecified interlocutor that he is afraid to visit Israel, where he last landed seven years ago, and that he wouldn’t come even if his health allowed it.

The newspaper noted Milchan’s travel over the past two years despite his claims of bad health, saying he flew by private jet between his properties in Bora Bora, Malibu, and Sussex County in England, and also visited Las Vegas.

Milchan was not charged in Case 1000, while Netanyahu was indicted for fraud and breach of trust. The prime minister is also charged with fraud in two other cases, and bribery in one of them. He denies all wrongdoing and claims without evidence that the charges are an effort by police, prosecutors, political rivals, the media, and others to force him from office.

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