JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s attorney general indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges on Thursday, heightening uncertainty over who will ultimately lead a country mired in political chaos after two inconclusive elections this year.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced the decision, the first of its kind against a serving Israeli prime minister, in a statement and said the charges included bribery, breach of trust and fraud.
Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases, is under no legal obligation to resign after being charged. He was due to make a statement at 2030 GMT.
Police recommended in February that Mandelblit file criminal charges against the right-wing prime minister in the long-running investigations dubbed Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000.
Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, which prosecutors said included cigars and champagne, from tycoons and of dispensing favours in alleged bids for improved coverage by Israel’s biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and the Walla website.
Israel’s longest-serving premier could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum 3-year term for fraud and breach of trust.
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Mark Heinrich)