Israel’s Supreme Court clears Netanyahu to form government despite corruption charges

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020   •   292

Photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz signing an agreement to form an emergency coalition government

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)

Israel allows re-entry of foreign caregivers

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The State of Israel’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) has allowed the entry and re-entry of foreign workers in the caregiving sector, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said in an advisory.

These include Filipino caregivers who were not able to return to Israel due to the travel restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“The re-entry policy covers licensed foreign caregivers who left Israel to visit their home country prior to the country’s March 18, 2020 travel restriction as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19,” the POEA said.

Israel’s Ministry of Interior also expanded the entry outline of foreign workers in the caregiving section including issuance of work permits for foreign caregivers entering Israel for the first time. 

“The entry of both vacationing and new caregivers will be subjected to an official application from the employer/patient’s family with the Population and Immigration Bureau, as well as required to follow all the conditions on their quarantine,” the agency explained. 

As such, upon arrival in Israel, the caregiver must undergo quarantine for 14 days in a facility which is not at the employer/patient’s home. 

The expenses and financial needs of the caregiver during the entire quarantine period will be shouldered by the employer, while the worker will not be paid of his/her salary during the quarantine.

53 Filipinos stranded in Israel back in PH – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A group of 53 Filipinos who were repatriated from Israel has arrived in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement on Monday, the DFA said the repatriates landed in Manila on Friday after leaving Istanbul on Oct. 1.

The Filipinos were assisted by the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv under the voluntary repatriation program (VRP) of Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA), the department added.

The flight included six senior citizens, a student, a lady with a medical case, and a one-and-a-half-month-old baby born in Israel who was issued an emergency travel document by the embassy.

The embassy said Filipinos have long wanted to go home but were stranded in the country due to the global pandemic and the series of lockdowns imposed by the Israeli government.

“Many of them have overstayed their visas in Israel, and I am glad that they will be able to at last reunite with their families after a long absence,” Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial said.

Imperial said the embassy and Israel’s immigration authority have been working together since last year to ensure orderly treatment for Filipino with no valid visas to enable their return to the Philippines.

“The embassy evaluates the applications and endorses them to PIBA, for further assessment and approval,” he said.

“VRP grantees are exempt from arrest and detention, and are provided free plane tickets to the Philippines,” he added.

The ambassador also expressed gratitude to Filipinos who have provided assistance to stranded fellowmen and those affected by the lockdowns.

The DFA said the second batch of 36 VRP grantees from Tel Aviv is expected to arrive in Manila on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Ex-Malaysian PM Najib found guilty on corruption charges, sentenced to 12 years in jail

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

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.

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