Court Fines Reporter $30000 for Defaming Netanyahus on Facebook

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Israeli courts on Sunday ordered journalist Igal Sarna to pay $32,500 dollars (over 100,000 shekels) to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara following a libel suit over claims that she kicked him out of the auto on the highway during an argument.

Sarna, one of the founders of leftwing Peace Now, has a long history of criticizing the Netanyahu family in his columns.

The court awarded Mr Netanyahu 60,000 shekels in damages and Mrs Netanyahu 40,000 shekels.

The Netanyahus a year ago filed a defamation suit against scribe Igal Sarna after he alleged that Sara had stopped the prime minister's convoy on a major artery connecting Jerusalem with Tel Aviv and kicked her husband out of their vehicle. The journalist claimed to have sources to back up his claims.

The lawsuit accused Serena of libeling the Netanyahus - a charge that is usually very hard to prove as it entails having to prove that the libeler had malice aforethought - but in this case, the court agreed with the prime minister and his wife.

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Reacting to the verdict Sunday, Sarna said in a Facebook post that he would appeal: "This kind of verdict is what is expected during these dark days".

Mr Sarna works for Yediot Aharonot newspaper which is often critical of Mr Netanyahu. "But it is only the beginning of the struggle against the attempt to silence", wrote Sarna on his Facebook page, responding to Sunday's verdict.

His wife Sara added in her testimony that "in the past I sued, and I will sue - for justice, and all that has been said about me is evil lies".

Netanyahu argued that the story was a complete fabrication, calling it, "so false, so absurd" in a court appearance with his wife in March. "It didn't happen", the prime minister said on the stand. Sara, who also appeared with her husband in the court, dubbed Sarna's claim among the "very bad lies".

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