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Prosecution witness in ex-Israel PM corruption trial killed in plane crash

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

A prosecution witness in the corruption trial of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was killed after his light private aircraft crashed into the sea close to the Greek island of Samos, Greek authorities say.

Greek authorities are investigating the Monday crash that killed Haim Geron, the deputy director of the Communications Ministry and a prosecution witness in Netanyahu's trial, and his wife, Esti.

The plane was flying from the occupied territories to the Greek island with Geron and his wife on board, both aged 69, and crashed close to the island's airport.

Netanyahu is on trial for three corruption cases of alleged bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He is accused of receiving extravagant gifts from his billionaire friends and granting media tycoons regulatory favors in return for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.

Netanyahu, now the opposition leader in the Israeli parliament, has denied all accusations and mocked the size of the witness list.

Geron was among more than 300 witnesses that prosecutors have listed for Netanyahu’s trial.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it has identified the bodies, adding that consular officials and the ministry are working with the family to bring the bodies back for burial.

Officials said Tuesday that Greece’s Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Board was investigating the causes of the crash.

“Shortly before landing, communication with the control tower on Samos was lost and the Civil Aviation Authority informed the search and rescue center about the loss of communication,” the authority said in a statement.

Greek media also reported that the Cessna 172 plane appeared to have suffered a technical problem and disappeared from radar. However, the exact cause of the incident has not been determined yet.

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