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Lawyer to be charged with graft in new woes for Netanyahu

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Israel’s state prosecutor said Thursday he intends to charge the personal lawyer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with money-laundering in the state’s purchase of submarines from German firm Thyssenkrupp.

Netanyahu has in the past been questioned as a witness in the case but was not considered a suspect.

Nevertheless, with prospects of another snap election looming and the premier already charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, it is sure to provide ammunition for his political rivals.

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Main challenger Benny Gantz, a former Israeli army chief, has repeatedly accused the country’s longest-serving prime minister of profiting personally from the submarine purchase.

Netanyahu denies the accusation.

Israel’s justice ministry said Thursday that subject to pre-indictment hearings for all the suspects, it intended to charge Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin, David Shimron, with money-laundering.

Charges of bribery are pending against another Israeli businessman and the former head of the Israeli navy, a ministry statement said.

Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit last month announced charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against Netanyahu in three different corruption cases, numbered 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000.

On Thursday he announced his intention to indict on case 3,000, which involved Germany’s 2017 sale of military submarines and other Thyssenkrupp-designed vessels for a total sum of around two billion dollars.

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The ministry statement announced indictments against the industrial giant’s local agent Michael Ganor and former navy chief Eliezer Marom, among others.

The Israeli police announced in November 2018 it had enough evidence to charge a number of suspects, including Shimron.

– Election countdown, again –

Thursday’s announcement comes as lawmakers face a looming December 11 deadline to find a solution or see parliament dissolved once again.

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An April election ended with neither side in control of enough parliamentary seats to form a viable coalition government.

The same happened in a second poll in September.

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During bitter campaigning for the April vote, Gantz made “zero tolerance for corruption” a central plank of his platform.

He also accused Netanyahu and those close to him of running the country and its institutions as their personal fiefdom.

Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance has said that Netanyahu may have committed treason by agreeing to allow Germany to sell Egypt submarines without the knowledge of the defence ministry.

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Germany consults Israel before such sales due to the relationship between the two countries, Israeli media have reported.

Blue and White say Netanyahu may have pushed for the submarine deal — which they say was surplus to requirements — to boost the stock of a company in which he had owned shares.

In March, Netanyahu made an unscheduled TV appearance to refute the allegations, striding in front of cameras on privately-owned Channel 12 during the main evening newscast.

“I have to smash the wave of lies spread by Gantz,” and other Blue and White leaders, he said.

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Netanyahu said that on the advice of his cousin, he had in 2007 bought $600,000 of stock in a company that manufactured components used in the metal industry, he said.

He said he sold it in 2010 — when already premier — and that the relevant authorities were made aware of the holdings and sale.

He reportedly sold at a profit of more than $3 million.

Netanyahu added that the submarine sale to Israel took place over a year later.

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“It’s a company that has nothing to do with submarines,” he said.

Two days after that interview, German prosecutors said they were investigating the 2017 sale.

That came shortly after Ganor was arrested in Israel, after changing his testimony during the investigation into corruption suspicions around the purchase of the German submarines.

© 2019 AFP


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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