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Lawyers dismiss latest interrogation of Sara Netanyahu as 'trifles'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara before boarding a plane to New York, Tuesday September 20
Koby Gideon (GPO)
Case against Mrs. Netanyahu for alleged misuse of public funds handed to prosecutors for indictment decision

Lawyers for Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insisted Friday that media reports had over-exaggerated her most recent interrogation by police on Thursday, saying it had dealt with "trifles" and "nothing will come of it."

Mrs. Netanyahu was questioned by the Israel police anti-corruption unit for a second time on Thursday over allegations that she used taxpayer money for personal expenses.

Lawyers Yossi Cohen and Amit Hadad on Friday denied media reports that Mrs. Netanyahu's most recent questioning had lasted for 11 hours.

“Contrary to media reports, the investigation on the matter of Mrs. Netanyahu did not last 11 hours,” Cohen and Hadad were quoted by Channel 10 as saying.

“Almost four hours were devoted to the prime minister’s wife going over the dozens of pages of statement she had submitted to interrogators, to ensure the text truthfully reflects what she said word for word. Contrary to the impression created by the media, this is not a new investigation, but the completion of an investigation into things that were examined over a year ago,” the lawyers said.

“We say with full confidence: These are trifles, and nothing will come of them, because there is nothing to them,” they insisted.

AFP

Channel 10, however, cited unnamed sources in the police as saying that “as far as the police are concerned there is a basis to serve an indictment against Netanyahu.”

Police said Thursday that the case had already been handed to the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office for a decision on whether to indict Mrs. Netanyahu or drop the case.

Israel police in May recommended Mrs. Netanyahu be prosecuted after she was questioned by police for five hours under caution last December on suspicion of irregularities in the running of the prime minister's households in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

During a review of the case ordered by the State Prosecutor's Office, new evidence is said to have emerged in a November 1 testimony given to police by Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the PM’s residence. Naftali was in May awarded NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages after suing the Netanyahus over alleged abusive treatment and wrongful termination.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday dismissed the investigation against his wife, saying that the accusations against her were baseless.

“Once again we say, there was nothing, because there is nothing,” he said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu is accused of misusing state funds for personal expenses, including payments to an electrician who worked at the Netanyahu family villa in the seashore community of Caesarea, the purchase of lawn furniture for that house, and expenses pertaining to the care of her father.

(Staff with agencies)

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