Hanegbi: I 'made mistakes,' want to stay public figure

State Prosecutors office: "Hanegbi's crimes are classic case of moral turpitude, which stems from ongoing criminal activity."

September 16, 2010 15:44
3 minute read.
MK TZAHI Hanegbi speaks at a press conference yest

hanegbi 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

MK Tzahi Hanegbi reacted Thursday to demands made by the state prosecutor for a suspended sentence against him by saying "I conduct public campaigns, during 30 years I have made mistakes."

Hanegbi requested that the court let him continue to be a public representative.

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"The last seven years have been difficult, it turns out that this time of difficult periods has not allowed me to acclimatise. The longer you don't see the end, the harder it gets," Hanegbi continued.

Hanegbi added "the hardest thing is that even if you feel strong and feel that your innocence will prevail, the dearest people to you pay the price and the affect it has on them hurts a lot."

Earlier on Thursday Jerusalem District Court prosecutors in the crucial part of  Hanegbi’s sentencing submitted a request to reject letters written by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other public officials who rallied to support their political rival by adding their signatures to a growing pile of letters asking the court to clear him of moral turpitude.

Representatives of the State Prosecutor's Office said that "Tzahi Hanegbi's crimes are a classic case of moral turpitude, which stems from ongoing criminal activity."

The prosecution requested that that the court also suspend Hanegbi from the Knesset.

They stressed that they wish to prevent Hanegbi from serving in the current government but did not have any intention of making serve a jail sentence.

"Hanegbi did not take responsibility, and therefore did not express remorse. This is not a momentary lapse of judgment," one of the prosecutors explained.

"Perjury is considered to be a crime that moral turpitude is inherent in it," the prosecutors said.

Barak, who has faced off against Hanegbi for many years, wrote in a letter to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that “since 2007, when I returned to serve as defense minister, I have worked shoulder to shoulder with MK Hanegbi as part of his service as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on a very wide variety of sensitive and important issues. The extent of his experience, his bipartisan perspective, his great success in his position and the discretion that characterize him stood after the 2009 elections at the basis of my willingness – in consultation with the prime minister – to retain his position at the head of this important committee despite the fact that he is an opposition member.”

Barak added that he believed the court should “consider” determining that Hanegbi had not committed an act of moral turpitude. In July, the MK was cleared of a number of the original charges listed in his indictment, but was found guilty of making false testimony in a probe by the State Comptroller’s office that concerned over 100 political appointments made while he served as a minister for the Likud Party.

Hanegbi’s political career was put on hold while he first awaited trial. The July ruling kept his political future uncertain: Had he been found guilty of two additional charges in the indictment – fraud and violation of the public trust – his fate would have been clearer.

In addition to the letters, Hanegbi’s defense team has enlisted the support of three character witnesses to testify during the sentencing.

Earlier this week, the Movement for Quality Government slammed what it described as “public lobbying” by prominent figures in favor of Hanegbi, labeling it as “inappropriate, degrading and embarrassing.” It launched an online petition calling for the exact opposite, for Hanegbi to be found guilty of moral turpitude. Almost 500 people have signed the petition thus far, and on Wednesday the movement stepped up its campaign, threatening to go to the Supreme Court if Hanegbi is absolved.

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