Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara suspected of taking bribes in Bezeq case; police publicly specifies suspicion against her

Tel Aviv: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife is suspected of accepting bribes in a corruption case involving her husband and Israel's largest telecom company, the police said on Thursday.

Police investigator Uri Kanar told a Tel Aviv court that Netanyahu's wife Sara was a suspect, and that the police has testimony that the Netanyahus and the owner of the Bezeq telecom company were cognisant of the implications of their actions, reported AP.

File image of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu. Reuters

File image of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu. Reuters

It was the first time the police publicly specified the suspicion against Sara Netanyahu, who was already questioned several times in the high-profile criminal investigation, Xinhua reported.

However, Sara Netanyahu's lawyers released a statement denying the accusations against her, saying she never took part in any bribery case.

Later on Thursday, the Israeli media reported that Yair Netanyahu, the 27-year-old son of the prime minister and his wife, is also a suspect in the case, reported Los Angeles Times. Sara's alleged involvement in the Bezeq case is not her first brush with the law, as in June 2018 she was charged with fraud and for misusing state funds.

The case, dubbed "Case 4000" by the police, involves the couple and Shaul Elovitch, a businessman and Benjamin Netanyahu's associate.

Elovitch's communication company Bezeq Telecom allegedly received financial benefits from the Communication Ministry during Netanyahu's service as the Communication Minister.

In return, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu allegedly received positive coverage by the Walla news site, also controlled by Elovitch.

The Netanyahu family mocked the reports and responded saying, "We also found a positive article about our dog Kaya on the Walla website. Kaya is lucky she passed away before she could be added to the circle of suspects who are suspected of bribery. There's no limit to the absurdity, and anyway, coverage of Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Walla site was and has remained negative on a regular basis," reported Haaretz.

The prime minister is entangled in a series of criminal corruption investigations. In February, the police said there was enough evidence to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two other cases. However, Attorney-General of Israel Avichai Mandelblit has still to decide whether to press charges or to drop the cases.

The police has questioned the prime minister 11 times regarding this case, most recently for four hours on 17 August.

It was not immediately clear how Sara, who as the premier's wife does not hold public office, might be charged with bribery, reported AP.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and charges the investigations are part of a "witch hunt" orchestrated by the "leftist" media and his enemies.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Aug 31, 2018 10:47 AM

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