Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in court Monday, pleading not guilty to corruption charges.
The prime minister, who is charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, made a Jerusalem court appearance Monday morning and confirmed pleas of not guilty that had been submitted by his lawyers, CNN reports. This was the second appearance in court for Netanyahu since his corruption trial commenced last May. He's accused of carrying out political favors in exchange for gifts or favorable media coverage.
After entering his not guilty plea, The Washington Post reports Netanyahu "abruptly" stood up, said "thank you very much," and left about 20 minutes into the hearing. This "quick departure from the court building seemed aimed at showing the public that he would not allow the trial to interfere with government business," Reuters wrote.
"He came by himself, without family members or minister loyalists, he is trying to belittle the situation," Hebrew University of Jerusalem political scientist Gayil Talshir also told the Post.
Netanyahu's appearance came weeks before Israel's March 23 elections, and CNN reports an ally of the prime minister's called for judges to delay additional hearings until after the vote. Netanyahu, Axios writes, hopes to "use his trial as a means for mobilizing his base ahead of the elections."