Prosecutors accuse Sara Netanyahu and a government employee of misusing state funds to pay for catered meals costing $100,000 at the premier's official residence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu visiting the the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, on Aug 26, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu visiting the the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius, on Aug 26, 2018. (AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, appeared in court on Sunday (October 7) for the first hearing in the fraud trial against her, in which she is alleged to have misused state funds in ordering catered meals.

The start of the trial is the latest chapter in a saga intensely scrutinised in Israel - but dismissed by the Netanyahu 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.

She was charged in June with fraud and breach of trust and of aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods. If convicted, Sara Netanyahu could face up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors accuse her and a government employee of misusing state funds to pay for catered meals costing US$100,000 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.

According to the charge sheet, the meals were ordered from a variety of well-known Jerusalem businesses, including an Italian restaurant, a Middle Eastern grill joint and a sushi establishment.

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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies