JERUSALEM — Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan will testify Sunday at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial to reply questions on an alleged “provide line” of champagne and cigars funneled to the Israeli chief and his spouse stated to have been in change for assist with Milchan’s private and enterprise wants.
Milchan, who will seem by videoconference from Brighton, England, close to the place he’s primarily based, is a key witness whose testimony is important for prosecutors who’re attempting to show that Netanyahu dedicated fraud and breach of belief in one in every of three circumstances introduced in opposition to him.
Prosecutors hope Milchan’s account, which extends all through this week, will paint an image of plush favors granted to Netanyahu and his spouse that allegedly spurred the Israeli chief to make use of his place of energy to advance Milchan’s pursuits.
Netanyahu’s spouse Sara, on a non-public go to to Britain, is reportedly anticipated to sit down in on Milchan’s testimony.
In response to the indictment, Milchan, whose manufacturing credit embody such hits as “Fairly Lady” and “12 Years a Slave,” gave Netanyahu and his spouse packing containers of cigars and crates of champagne over a interval of a number of years that, together with jewellery, amounted to a price of practically $200,000 — what the indictment describes as a “provide line” of lavish items.
The indictment accuses Netanyahu of utilizing his influential perch to help Milchan to safe a U.S. visa extension by drawing on his diplomatic contacts, amongst them former Secretary of State John Kerry. Prosecutors additionally accuse Netanyahu of working to push laws that may have granted Milchan tens of millions in tax breaks.
“Contemplating the various hyperlinks between the defendant Netanyahu and Milchan, the defendant Netanyahu ought to have solely averted coping with Milchan’s affairs,” the indictment says.
Milchan is testifying in one in every of three circumstances being introduced in opposition to Netanyahu. The opposite two, for which he’s charged with bribery, fraud and breach of belief, accuse Netanyahu of exchanging regulatory favors with highly effective media moguls for extra constructive protection.
Netanyahu, who is predicted to attend a few of Milchan’s hearings, denies wrongdoing, claiming he’s the sufferer of a witch hunt orchestrated by a liberal media and a biased justice system.
Netanyahu’s authorized woes have dogged him politically, placing his health to rule whereas on trial on the heart of a political disaster that despatched Israelis to the polls for 5 occasions in beneath 4 years.
In addition they have fueled accusations by critics that Netanyahu is pushing a contentious authorities plan to overtake Israel’s judiciary as a technique to escape the fees. Netanyahu denies these fees.
The trial, which started in 2020 and has nonetheless not heard from Netanyahu himself, has featured greater than 40 prosecution witnesses, together with a few of Netanyahu’s closest former confidants who turned in opposition to the premier.
Witness accounts have shed mild not solely on the three circumstances but additionally revealed sensational particulars about Netanyahu’s character and his household’s popularity for residing off the largesse of taxpayers and rich supporters. Milchan’s aide, Hadas Klein, testified final 12 months that the household “loves items.”
The concept of a plea cut price has repeatedly surfaced, however prosecutors for now seem decided to see via the trial, regardless of stories final week that the judges warned them that the extra severe crime of bribery shall be laborious to show.