Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared before a court, accused of breach of trust and misappropriation of state funds for the payment of hundreds of luxurious meals and private chef services.
In addition to Netanyahu’s wife, the deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ezra Saidof, is on trial.
The president of the court, Avital Jen, gave the prosecution and defense until November 13 to reach an agreement, date on which the court will meet again if negotiations fail, reported state television Kan.
Netanyahu is accused of using public funds to pay for meals to the tune of 360,000 Shékels (more than 85,000 euros), falsely stating that there were no cooks available at the official residence at the time.
Saidof is accused of covering up the fact that there was indeed a cook hired at the residence by falsifying documents.
The summary of the case states that “the defendants have made several false statements that they themselves do not believe to be true,” reported the daily Haaretz.
“Through these statements, they recognized that they had committed fraud by misusing hundreds of thousands of shekels from state coffers. The aggravated circumstances are illustrated by the fact that the sums were extracted in a continuous and methodical manner,” the media quoted.
The maximum penalty for the crime of breach of trust is three years in prison, and fraud is five years, but commentators point out that the courts tend to give lighter sentences and in the case of Sara Netanyahu speculate that if found guilty, she will only serve community service.
Preceding the hearings, the defendant’s lawyer quipped: “For the first time in history, a leader’s wife has been charged with macaroni and takeaway food,” adding that “the prosecution is based on an illegal procedure that, in essence, does not exist,” according to Kan Radio.
The lawyer was referring to a clause, which according to him was not approved by the Economic Committee of Knesset (Parliament) that limited the expenses of the Prime Minister’s Residence.