Latest twists and turns in Bibi’s trial
In one of the more damning moments of Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood mogul, took to the stand (virtually) on Monday to say his piece.
A longtime friend of the PM, Milchan testified for the prosecution and said that during Bibi’s previous tenure (2007-2016) he sometimes gave gifts to the PM and his wife – most commonly cigars and champagne – in exchange for business and tax favors.
By saying that the Netahyahus had at times requested kickbacks, the powerful media tycoon undercut the PM’s claim that this case comes down to nothing more than one friend giving some gifts to another.
Quick recap: Bibi, who has ruled over the right-wing Likud Party for decades, is currently facing three separate criminal cases for bribery, corruption, and breach of trust. Milchan, who has produced scores of blockbusters including “Pretty Woman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is a key witness in just one of them.
Milchan’s testimony, which he’s giving via video link in the UK, where he lives, will go on for several more days. Still, this isn’t the most serious case facing the PM – that one is known as Case 4,000 and linked to allegations that Bibi greenlit regulatory decisions to benefit a telecoms giant in exchange for favorable media coverage.
Crucially, Bibi got some good news related to that case in recent days, with reports that judges overseeing Case 4,000 have in recent days called on the prosecution to seek a plea deal owing to insufficient evidence.
Given the sluggish nature of Israel's judicial system (and the PM’s stonewalling tactics) even if negotiations over a deal fall through, some legal experts say that proceedings, including appeals, could drag on until as late as 2029.