Former senior Israeli official Haim Geron was killed in a plane crash near the Greek island of Samos. Geron was among the witnesses in the ongoing corruption trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The light plane, carrying Geron and his wife Esther, crashed into the sea near Samos airport on Monday evening. The former official, who was deputy director general of engineering and licensing at Israel’s communications ministry, and his wife, both 69, were the sole occupants of the plane.
The bodies of the victims were found hours after the crash by the Greek Coast Guard, who searched the area with boats and divers. “We recovered two bodies on the spot”, a coast guard official told Reuters. “The plane crashed about a mile south of the airport,” another manager added.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has already confirmed the identity of the victims, adding that it is making efforts to bring their bodies back to Israel for burial.
The Greek Aviation and Aviation Accident Investigation Council on Tuesday launched an investigation into the cause of the crash. The board said communication with Geron’s plane was lost shortly before its scheduled landing at Samos airport. Multiple explosions were reportedly heard in the area at the time of the accident.
“A local fisherman said there was a big explosion, followed by a smaller one”, The head of the board, Ioannis Kondylis, told AFP.
While Greek media reported that the plane appeared to have suffered a technical malfunction, there is no official word yet on the cause of the incident.
Geron was among 300 prosecution witnesses listed for the corruption trial of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is faced simultaneously with three corruption cases known as Cas 1000, Cas 2000 and Cas 4000.
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The latter case is the most serious for Netanyahu, who allegedly abused his powers between 2014 and 2017, when he was both prime minister and communications minister of the country. Indicted on charges of fraud, corruption and breach of public trust over allegations of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy businessmen and conspiring with media bosses for favorable coverage, Netanyahu has consistently denied all charges against him.
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