Israel’s Supreme Court clears Netanyahu to form government despite corruption charges
UNTV News • May 7, 2020 • 210
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment on corruption charges does not disqualify him from forming a government, Israel’s top court said late on Wednesday (May 6), paving the way for the veteran leader to remain in power.
In its ruling against opposition petitioners, the Supreme Court also found that Netanyahu’s unity government deal with his election rival Benny Gantz does not violate the law, dismissing arguments that it unlawfully shields him in a corruption trial.
The ruling removes a critical legal hurdle to the coalition government the right-wing Netanyahu and centrist Gantz plan to swear in next week, following three inconclusive elections in the past year.
It also moves the country closer to ending its political deadlock as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.
Netanyahu was indicted in January on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing in all three cases. (Reuters)
(Production: Eli Berklzon, Rami Amichay, Lee Marzel)
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was found guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering on Tuesday in a case related to SRC International, a former unit of state investment fund Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The verdict is the first in several corruption trials against Najib.
The case involves 42 million ringgits (9.9 million U.S. dollars) deposited into Najib’s personal bank account from SRC International, in which Najib faced seven charges including criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power.
In the reading out of the ruling, Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled that the defence has failed to raise reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s case, which led him to find Najib guilty on all seven charges.
The judge later sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and a fine of 210 million ringgit (49.4 million U.S. dollars) for abuse of power; 10 years of jail for each of the three criminal breach of trust; and 10 years of jail for each of the three money laundering. But he ordered the sentences to run concurrently, meaning that Najib will face only up to 12 years in jail.
Najib, 67, said it’s not the end of the fight as he has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has appealed against his conviction.
“No, because this is definitely not the end of the world. Because there is a process of appeal and we hope that we will be successful there. So, the effort will continue and to my supporters, I hope they will continue to believe in me, believe in our struggle, and continue to be positive, and in high spirit,” he said.
Najib was also sentenced to an additional 5 years in jail if he fails to pay the fine, but the judge agreed to grant an application by the defence on a stay of execution on both jail sentence and the fine pending the appeal.
The judge has also set 1 million ringgits bail in two sureties to be paid by Wednesday afternoon, and Najib is required to report to the nearest police station on the 1st and 15th of every month.
The former prime minister was first prosecuted in July 2018. Last year, Najib was ordered by the High Court to enter his defence on all seven charges against him.
Najib has been slapped with dozens of charges for corruption, money laundering, power abuse and criminal breach of trust after his ruling coalition lost power during the national polls in May 2018.
Israeli inventors have developed a coronavirus mask that allows diners to eat food without taking it off, a device that could make a visit to a restaurant less risky.
A squeeze of a lever, much like a cyclist operates a handbrake, opens a slot in the front of the mask so that food can pass through.
The process could get messy with ice cream or sauces, but more solid morsels can be gobbled up in a flash in the style of Pac-Man in the iconic video game.
“The mask will be opened mechanically by hand remote or automatically when the fork is coming to the mask,” said Asaf Gitelis, vice president of Avtipus Patents and Inventions, who demonstrated the device at its offices near Tel Aviv.
“Then you can eat, enjoy, drink and you take out the fork and it will be closed, and you’re protected against the virus and other people sitting with you.”
The company said it plans to start manufacturing the mask within months and had already submitted a patent. It said it would likely sell at a 3 to 10 shekel ($0.85 to $2.85) premium above the price of the simple pale blue medical masks many Israelis wear.
Outside a juice bar in Tel Aviv, Reuters showed a cellphone video of the mask in action. Opinion was divided.
“I think this mask that enables me to eat while I’m still wearing it, it’s a must have,” said Ofir Hameiri, a 32-year-old graduate student.
But maskless and eating an ice cream cone, Ron Silberstein, a 29-year-old musician, said: “I don’t think this mask could hold this kind of ice cream – it’s dripping all over. I wouldn’t want to wear it afterward”.
Israel has largely reopened its economy after a dramatic drop in cases of the novel coronavirus. But restaurants are open only for takeout for the time being. (Reuters)
(Production: Eli Berlzon, Rami Amichai, Rinat Harash, Jeffrey Heller)
An Israeli regenerative medicine company that is developing a platform of novel biological therapeutic products has announced that they were able to treat their first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient in New Jersey, USA under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Single Patient Expanded Access Program, also known as a compassionate use program.
In a statement, Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. said the treatment is “part of the U.S. Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP), an emergency program for possible therapies that uses every available method to move new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.”
Pluristem said the patient was administered a treatment called Placental expanded (PLX) cell therapy.
The company added that the patient was critically ill with respiratory failure due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) prior to the PLX treatment.
The patient was also under mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit (ICU) for three weeks.
Pluristem CEO and President Yaky Yanay said they are now focusing on the initiation of a multinational clinical study.
“In parallel with our planned clinical trial, we expect to continue treating patients under compassionate use through the appropriate regulatory clearances in the United States and Israel, as well as expanding treatment under compassionate use in other countries,” he said. AAC
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