AKIPRESS.COM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases in which he faces indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, CNN reports.
Netanyahu submitted the request to the Knesset late Wednesday night, saying he plans on leading the country "for many years to come."
"What is being done to me is a field court-martial by misleading the public," Netanyahu said in a televised statement Wednesday evening in Jerusalem. "The immunity law is intended to protect elected officials from fabricated legal proceedings -- from political indictment intended to damage the will of the people. This law intends to ensure that those elected can serve the people according to the will of the people, not the will of the law clerks."
Charges against Netanyahu were unveiled in November. He's maintained his innocence throughout the ongoing criminal proceedings, calling them an "attempted coup" led by the left and the media.
If the immunity request is rejected, Netanyahu does not have to resign immediately. Under Israeli law, he can remain Prime Minister while the trial is ongoing. He only has to resign if he is convicted and that conviction is upheld through the appeals process, a process which could take years.
Under Israeli law, Knesset members can request immunity citing one of four reasons:
- Protection of freedom of expression
- Prosecutors were acting in bad faith or discriminating against the member
- The Knesset has already disciplined the member and there is no public interest in a trial
- Criminal proceedings would cause serious damage to the functioning of the Knesset, its committees, or the will of the voters. In addition, there would not be considerable damage to the public interest without a trial.