Israel postpones Netanyahu graft trial by 2 months over virus

Despite the indictments, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won the most seats in March 2 elections and he is aiming to form a new government. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Israel postpones Netanyahu graft trial by 2 months over virus

  • Netanyahu was the first Israeli premier ever to be indicted in office
  • He had been scheduled to stand trial from Tuesday over alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has been postponed until May 24 due to concerns about coronavirus, Jerusalem’s District Court said Sunday.
Netanyahu, the first Israeli premier ever to be indicted in office, had been scheduled to stand trial from Tuesday over alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
In a statement, the court noted that given the coronavirus pandemic it had been instructed to hear “only urgent matters.”
“We have decided to postpone the first hearing (in Netanyahu’s trial) until May 24,” the court said.
Israel has 200 confirmed cases of the virus with tens of thousands of people in home quarantine.
Netanyahu has been charged with a range of offenses including receiving improper gifts and offering a media mogul lucrative regulatory changes in exchange for favorable coverage.
He denies wrongdoing.
Despite the indictments, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won the most seats in March 2 elections and he is aiming to form a new government.
But Likud and its allies fell short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the Knesset, or parliament. It was Israel’s third inconclusive vote in less than a year.
Netanyahu has called on his main challenger Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party to form an emergency, national unity government to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Gantz has said he is open to discussing the proposal, with negotiations set for this week.


Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

Updated 04 August 2020

Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

  • Explosive courtroom transcript says Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was killed because he knew too much about Turkish general's murky dealings in Syria
  • Turkish officials accused of embezzling money sent from Qatar to arm Syrian militants

LONDON: A Turkish general killed during a failed coup was executed after he found out Qatar was funneling money to extremist groups in Syria through Turkey, according to explosive courtroom claims.

Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was shot dead in July 2016 during an attempt by some military officers to overthrow the government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The alleged plotters were accused of being followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

According to a courtroom transcript obtained by the anti-Erdogan Nordic Monitor website, Terzi’s killing was ordered by Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, the then head of Turkey’s Special Forces Command.

The website claims the testimony came from Col. Firat Alakus, who worked in the intelligence section of the Special Forces Command, during a hearing at the 17th High Criminal Court in Ankara in March, 2019.

Alakus said Terzi had discovered that Aksakalli was working secretly with the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) in running illegal operations in Syria for personal gain.

“[Terzi] knew how much of the funding delivered [to Turkey] by Qatar for the purpose of purchasing weapons and ammunition for the opposition was actually used for that and how much of it was actually used by public officials, how much was embezzled,” Alakus said. 

He added that Terzi’s knowledge of Aksakalli’s murky dealings was the real reason Aksakalli ordered his execution.

Terzi was killed after Aksakalli ordered him back to Ankara from a border province as the failed coup attempt unfolded, Alakus said.

Other accounts say Terzi was one of the main coup plotters and was killed leading an attempt to capture the special forces headquarters in the capital.

Along with the Qatari claim, Alakus said Terzi also knew the details of Turkey’s involvement in oil smuggling from Syria and how government officials aided extremist militant commanders.

He also objected to Turkish intelligence supplying weapons and training to extremist Syrian factions who were passed off as moderate opposition fighters.

“[Terzi’s murder] had to do with a trap devised by Zekai Aksakalli, who did not want such facts to come out into the open,” Alakus said.

Alakus was jailed for life in June 2019 after being convicted for taking part in the coup.