JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial will begin in earnest in January with witnesses being heard three times a week, a court decided on Sunday (Jul 19).
Lawyers for Netanyahu, the first serving prime minister in Israel to go on trial, had asked for a six-month postponement to prepare their strategy. They suggested it would be difficult to gauge the truthfulness of witnesses wearing anti-coronavirus masks, currently compulsory in Israel.
Netanyahu's legal troubles have partly fuelled mounting street protests against him, with demonstrators citing his alleged corruption and handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken a turn for the worse in Israel.
Israeli police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators from outside Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem on Saturday, and in Tel Aviv, protesters blocking traffic clashed with police.
Netanyahu was not required to appear at Sunday's court session.
The veteran leader's trial formally opened in May in the Jerusalem District Court, where Netanyahu denied the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against him and his attorneys were given two months to study the material against him.
At Sunday's hearing, Netanyahu's lawyers asked for more time as they expected to file a series of pre-trial motions over witnesses and documents, and said masks would be problematic if sessions were held now.
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