Israel PM's wife goes on trial in delivery meals case

Sara Netanyahu's fraud and breach of trust trial begins in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and his wife Sara Netanyahu host a dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on May 2, 2018. Sara Netanyahu is charged with spending almost $100,000 in public funds on meals from upscale restaurants, despite already having a private cook.

Netanyahu's interrogation took place two days before the planned start of his wife's trial, who is accused of fraudulently obtaining funding from the prime minister's office to order hundreds of meals from restaurants, worth more than 350,000 new shekels (about 97,000 US dollars).

Netanyahu appeared before the Jerusalem's magistrates court but made no remarks before the press was asked to leave.

Sara Netanyahu was charged with fraud and breach of trust in June.

Sara Netanyahu is accused of instructing staff at the prime minister's residence to order meals from posh restaurants, a violation of rules that bar ordering outside food when there's a cook on staff.

Netanyahu's lawyers have argued she was oblivious to the regulations and that the meals were ordered by an assistant and served to visiting dignitaries.

Her husband, Benjamin Netanyahu, is himself embroiled in a series of corruption investigations. He denies all allegations of wrongdoing, and is not required to stand down unless convicted.

Other former employees have also claimed mistreatment and accused her of charging the state for her private and lavish tastes, including pink champagne and other luxuries. In 2016, a court ruled she abused a housekeeper and awarded the man €36,000 in damages. In recent days, however, two of her attorneys have resigned over differences in how to proceed: they wanted Mrs Netanyahu to reach a plea bargain, which would include admitting guilt, while her remaining attorneys have pushed for going to trial and maintaining her innocence.

This is one of the multiple scandals facing the Netanyahu family with opponents and some media outlets portraying the Netanyahu administration as being out of touch with the average Israeli citizen.

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