Israel police question Netanyahu over telecoms corruption case

It is the first time that Benjamin Netanyahu, who as prime minister also held the communications portfolio until last year, is being questioned over the affair, known as Case 4000. (Reuters)
Updated 02 March 2018
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Israel police question Netanyahu over telecoms corruption case

JERUSALEM: Israeli police were questioning Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife on Friday as part of an investigation into a corruption case involving the country’s telecom giant, Israeli media reported, casting a shadow on the prime minister’s upcoming visit to Washington.
Channel 10 TV showed footage of police entering Netanyahu’s residence. Reports said Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was being questioned at another location.
Last month, two Netanyahu confidants were arrested on suspicion of promoting regulation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bezeq telecom company. In return, Bezeq’s news site, Walla, allegedly provided positive Netanyahu coverage.
It’s the first time that Netanyahu, who as prime minister also held the communications portfolio until last year, is being questioned over the affair, known as Case 4000.
The development comes ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington where he is to meet with President Donald Trump and speak before the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC next week.
Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases.
Netanyahu is accused of accepting nearly $300,000 in lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. In return, police say Netanyahu operated on Milchan’s behalf on US visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.
In the other case, Netanyahu is accused of offering a newspaper publisher legislation that would weaken his paper’s main rival in return for more favorable coverage. Netanyahu reportedly was recorded asking Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, for positive coverage in exchange for helping to weaken Israel Hayom, a free pro-Netanyahu newspaper that had cut into Yediot’s business.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media.


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 18 February 2019
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Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”