(Update 1: Adds plea, alters lede and headline.)
Jerusalem, Feb 8 (efe-epa).- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday formally pleaded not guilty before judges at Jerusalem’s District Court as the corruption trial against him resumed.
A three-judge panel heard the defendants’ response to the indictment and set the date for the next evidentiary stage of the trial. Israel is set to hold elections on 23 March.
This is the second time Netanyahu has appeared in court since the trial began in May, and he could have to appear in court three times a week during the evidence phase.
Monday’s session was initially set for January but was delayed due to a coronavirus lockdown.
Dozens of people demonstrated outside the court against the 71-year-old leader, calling him a “minister of crime.”
“We will not surrender until he resigns,” protesters chanted.
Netanyahu is the first prime minister in Israel’s history to face trial while in office.
The indictment accuses Netanyahu of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, charging him with accepting expensive gifts, and trying to improve media coverage of him in exchange for favors.
Netanyahu has denied all allegations. EFE-EPA