Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife Sara on trial for US$100,000 fraud

World | 8 Oct 2018 1:18 pm

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu appeared in a Jerusalem court yesterday on the first day of a trial over her alleged overspending of state money on catered meals at the prime minister's official residence, despite a full-time chef having been employed to cook.

If convicted, Netanyahu, 59, could face up to five years of prison.

She has been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than US$100,000 from the state for ordering hundreds of meals from restaurants, bypassing rules that forbid using such monies if a cook is employed at home.

The meals allegedly came from a number of well-known restaurants in Jerusalem, including an Italian restaurant, a Middle Eastern grill joint and a sushi restaurant.

A statement from her lawyers said the food had been ordered against her will.

The court hearing was adjourned after a short time until November 13. The trial is expected to last for months.

It is not the first time Sara Netanyahu, an educational psychologist, has come before a court over alleged misbehavior.

In 2016, a labor court in Jerusalem found her guilty of abusing an employee at the official residence and ordered her to pay US$42,000 in damages, while in 2018, the Netanyahus won a libel suit against an Israeli reporter, Igal Sarna, who claimed Sara had once thrown her husband Benjamin out of a car onto the side of the road during an argument.

She has also long faced other allegations from employees of extravagance, abusive behavior and mistreatment.

Her husband, Benjamin Netanyahu, is himself embroiled in a series of corruption investigations. Both he and Sara Netanyahu say the charges are politically motivated and fabricated by a hostile media.

Sara married Benjamin Netanyahu in 1991 in a second marriage. They have two sons.- AP, Reuters

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