Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara Netanyahu goes on trial today for allegedly using state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals, part of a list of legal troubles facing the family.
The start of the trial will be the latest chapter in a saga intensely scrutinised in Israel – but dismissed by the Netanyahus as another “absurd” attempt to discredit them.
The veteran premier himself faces possible charges in separate corruption investigations, leading to speculation that he will eventually be forced to step down.
Mrs Netanyahu was charged with fraud and breach of trust in June.
Prosecutors accuse her of misusing state funds to pay for catered meals costing US$100,000 (S$138,000) by falsely declaring there were no cooks available at the premier’s official residence.
From 2010 to 2013, she, her family and guests received “fraudulently from the state hundreds of prepared meals”, the indictment read.
The trial, which could run for months, is to open in the Jerusalem magistrates court at 1.30pm, overseen by a panel of three judges due to the “public sensitivity” of the case.
It was originally scheduled to start in July but was postponed for reasons that were not made public.
Mrs Netanyahu, aged 59 and a high-profile presence at her husband’s side throughout his long tenure, has denied any wrongdoing.
But the case has again turned the spotlight on the Netanyahu family and past allegations of misbehaviour.
Mrs Netanyahu has previously been accused of pocketing cash from deposit refunds for empty bottles returned from the official residence.
She has also faced accusations of mistreating staff, and in 2016, a court awarded some US$47,000 in damages to a former housekeeper who accused the couple of repeated workplace abuse.
All the allegations have been closely covered in the Israeli media. The Netanyahus have hit back, calling them grossly unfair smear attempts.
Mrs Netanyahu has, in the past, said that her “blood has been spilled publicly”.