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Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan to Testify at Netanyahu's Corruption Trial as a Prosecution Witness

Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan to Testify at Netanyahu's Corruption Trial as a Prosecution Witness

Sunday, 25 June 2023 05:34 AM EDT

Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan will testify Sunday at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial to answer questions about an alleged “supply line” of champagne and cigars funneled to the Israeli leader and his wife said to have been in exchange for help with Milchan’s personal and business needs.

Milchan, who will appear by videoconference from Brighton, England, near where he is based, is a key witness whose testimony is essential for prosecutors who are trying to prove that Netanyahu committed fraud and breach of trust in one of three cases brought against him.

Prosecutors hope Milchan's testimony, which extends through this week and next, will paint a picture of plush favors granted to Netanyahu and his wife that allegedly spurred the Israeli leader to use his position of power to advance Milchan’s interests. The defense will try to lay out their case that Netanyahu wasn’t acting in Milchan’s personal interests and that the gifts were just friendly gestures.

Prosecution and defense lawyers will question Milchan from a hotel conference room in Brighton. While no journalists are allowed to attend, Netanyahu’s wife Sara, on a private visit to Britain, will sit in on Milchan’s testimony. His testimony will be aired in a Jerusalem courtroom for the judges, journalists and other attendees.

According to the indictment, Milchan, whose production credits include such hits as “Pretty Woman" and “12 Years a Slave,” gave Netanyahu and his wife boxes of cigars and crates of champagne over a period of several years that, along with jewelry, amounted to a value of nearly $200,000 — what the indictment describes as a “supply line” of lavish gifts.

The indictment accuses Netanyahu of using his influential perch to assist Milchan to secure a U.S. visa extension by drawing on his diplomatic contacts, among them former Secretary of State John Kerry. Prosecutors also accuse Netanyahu of working to push legislation that would have granted Milchan millions in tax breaks.

“Considering the many links between the defendant Netanyahu and Milchan, the defendant Netanyahu should have entirely avoided dealing with Milchan's affairs,” the indictment says.

Milchan is testifying in one of three cases being brought against Netanyahu. The other two, for which he is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, accuse Netanyahu of exchanging regulatory favors with powerful media moguls for more positive coverage.

Netanyahu, who is expected to attend some of Milchan's hearings, denies wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a witch hunt orchestrated by a liberal media and a biased justice system.

Netanyahu's legal woes have dogged him politically, putting his fitness to rule while on trial at the center of a political crisis that sent Israelis to the polls for five times in under four years.

They also have fueled accusations by critics that Netanyahu is pushing a contentious government plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary as a way to escape the charges. Netanyahu denies those charges.

The trial, which began in 2020 and has still not heard from Netanyahu himself, has featured more than 40 prosecution witnesses, including some of Netanyahu’s closest former confidants who turned against the premier.

Witness accounts have shed light not only on the three cases but also revealed sensational details about Netanyahu’s character and his family’s reputation for living off the largesse of taxpayers and wealthy supporters. Milchan's aide, Hadas Klein, testified last year that the family “loves gifts.”

The idea of a plea bargain has repeatedly surfaced, but prosecutors for now appear determined to see through the trial, despite reports last week that the judges warned them that the more serious crime of bribery will be hard to prove.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan will testify Sunday at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial to answer questions about an alleged "supply line" of champagne and cigars funneled to the Israeli leader and his wife said to have been in exchange for help...
netanyahu trial israel hollywood producer corruption
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2023-34-25
Sunday, 25 June 2023 05:34 AM
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