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Opening statements get under way in Bob ‘Gold Bar’ Menendez’s bribery trial

The corruption and bribery trial of embattled New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez officially got under on Wednesday afternoon with opening statements in the case.

After two slow days of jury selection, 12 New York residents were finally sworn in that morning to hear a case involving a sitting US lawmaker, wads of cash and gold bars, Egyptian government officials and a halal meat start-up.

Mr Menendez, 70, and his co-defendants – his wife Nadine Menendez and three New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Fred Daibes and Jose Uribe – were indicted last September on criminal charges related to an alleged years-long bribery scheme.

In the subsequent months, prosecutors unveiled more charges in two superseding indictments. One included charges related to bribery to benefit officials in Qatar. The other added obstruction of justice charges after Mr Uribe took a plea deal with prosecutors.

Mr Menendez now faces 16 felony charges, including bribery, acting as a foreign agent, obstruction of justice and extortion.

He has pleaded guilty to the charges and denies all wrongdoings.

Prosecutors began opening statements on Wednesday afternoon inside Daniels Patrick Moynihan federal court in downtown Manhattan, laying out the allegations that the senator acceptedlavish bribes including gold bars, cash, payments for a Mercedes-Benz convertible and more from the New Jersey businessmen in exchange for using his political influence for favors. Those favors ultimately benefitted the government of Egypt as well as officials in Qatar, prosecutors say.

Just a few feet away, Mr Menendez sat with his lawyers and co-defendants Mr Hana and Mr Daibes, and their lawyers.

That morning, 12 jurors and six alternates were sworn in before Judge Sidney Stein, after

Read more on independent.co.uk