Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case

Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives in the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case

Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case
  • Sara Netanyahu was ordered to pay a fine and compensation
  • Netanyahu was originally charged in June 2018

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, appeared in court on Sunday to admit criminal wrongdoing over the misuse of state funds to order catered meals, in a plea bargain carrying no jail time.
Under the agreement, a fraud charge was reduced to a lesser offense and she will pay the state 45,000 shekels ($12,490) in reimbursement and a 10,000 shekel ($2,775) fine.
According to the original indictment, Sara Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained from the state more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at home.
Smiling broadly, Netanyahu faced a phalanx of cameras in the courthouse before the session got under way.
At the hearing, a judge ratified the plea deal, convicting her of the criminal charge of intentionally exploiting another person’s mishandling of state money for her own benefit, after prosecutors dropped the more serious offense of fraud.
“Do you understand what you admitted to?” the judge asked Netanyahu, 60. “Yes, I do,” she replied.
Israel’s YNet website published a photograph of what it said was a note from her husband, who was not in the court, that was passed to her during the session. “We will get through this, too. Be strong!!,” it said.
While the deal lifts a legal cloud over Sara Netanyahu, it has no direct bearing on the prime minister’s own troubles — three corruption cases in which he has denied wrongdoing.
In February, Israel’s attorney general said he intended to file fraud and bribery charges against Benjamin Netanyahu, pending a pre-trial hearing.
That session is set for early October, two weeks after a Sept. 17 general election that follows a ballot in April in which Netanyahu declared victory but failed to form a government.
In explaining the plea agreement to the court, prosecutors cited Mrs.Netanyahu’s clean record, the public humiliation she has suffered as a result of the case and the time that has passed — up to nine years — since the crimes were committed.
The government employee charged along with Netanyahu also reached an agreement with the prosecution and was fined 10,000 shekels.
Sara Netanyahu has elicited a multitude of headlines in the past over what family spokesmen have decried as an undeserved reputation for imperiousness.
Three years ago, a labor court found she had insulted and raged at household staff, and it awarded about $40,000 to the former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s residence in a civil suit against the government over alleged mistreatment and unfulfilled promises of tenure.


Iran to begin vaccination in coming weeks, says Rouhani

Iran to begin vaccination in coming weeks, says Rouhani
A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on January 20, 2021, shows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani charing a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Iran to begin vaccination in coming weeks, says Rouhani

Iran to begin vaccination in coming weeks, says Rouhani
  • Tehran and Havana are under tough US sanctions that while they exempt medicine often deter foreign pharmaceutical companies from trading with them

DUBAI: President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst-hit country.
“Foreign vaccines are a necessity until local vaccines are available,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, without giving details of what foreign vaccines would be used.
Earlier this month Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, banned the government from importing vaccines from the US and Britain, which he said were possibly seeking to spread the infection to other countries.
Rouhani himself, in compliance with Khamenei’s ban, said at the time that his government would purchase “safe foreign vaccines.”
Iran launched human trials of its first domestic vaccine candidate late last month, saying this could help it defeat the pandemic despite US sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.
“There have been good movements in the field of local and foreign vaccines,” Rouhani said, adding that three domestic vaccines — Barekat, Pasteur and Razi, some of which have been developed with foreign collaboration — could begin in the spring and summer.

BACKGROUND

The country has recorded 1,150,000 cases and 57,000 deaths. There has been a decline in recent weeks of new infections and deaths.

Cuba said earlier this month that it had signed an accord with Tehran to transfer the technology for its most advanced coronavirus vaccine candidate and carry out last-stage clinical trials of the shot in Iran.
Tehran and Havana are under tough US sanctions that while they exempt medicine often deter foreign pharmaceutical companies from trading with them.
In addition to developing its own vaccine, Iran is participating in the COVAX scheme which aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries.