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Netanyahu pre-indictment hearings draw to a close

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit arrives at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the hearing on the corruption cases in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a suspect, on Oct. 7, 2019.

The fourth and final day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearings for multiple corruption, bribery, and breach of trust charges ended Monday night after 10 hours, giving way to the next stage, in which Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit determines whether to indict Israel’s leader.

Mandelblit has until Dec. 15 to decide whether Netanyahu will be indicted in any or all of three cases: Case 4000 (the Bezeq-Walla affair), Case 1000 (the illegal gifts affair) and Case 2000 (the Yedioth AhronothIsrael Hayom affair)

Most of the four days of hearings were devoted to Case 4000, considered to be the most serious of the three, with just a day dedicated to Cases 2000 and 1000.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys leaked conflicting reports of happenings inside the hearings, with defenders saying they had surprised Mandelblit with important new evidence, whereas prosecutors insisted no new information had been presented which could cause the cases to be dropped.

On Sunday, a minor scandal erupted when lead prosecuting attorney Liat Ben-Ari failed to arrive at the hearing, due to a family vacation.

As lead prosecutor, and the head of the team which led to the conviction of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on charges of bribery and breach of trust, Ben-Ari’s absence from the hearing was treated by Israeli media as an unprecedented incident.

Some analysts say Ben-Ari failed to attend the hearing due to conflicts with Mandelblit, who overruled Ben-Ari’s intent to charge Netanyahu with bribery in all three cases, choosing to charge him with the more minor offense of breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery only in Case 4000.

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