Former Likud MK Naomi Blumenthal filed a request for a pardon Tuesday, in a last-ditch effort to avoid starting her eight-month prison term. Blumenthal, who was convicted of bribery and obstruction charges at the Tel Aviv District court last April, is supposed to start her sentence in 12 days. In her request, Blumenthal listed the death of her husband, Prof. Michael Blumenthal, as the main reason for the pardon. Former MKs Yossi Sarid and Shulamit Aloni also lent their support to Blumenthal, calling on the justice minister to approve the pardon. Acting President and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik's office said that according to the law, they had passed along the request to the Justice Ministry. Blumenthal has filed several appeals in the past. Last March, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected Blumenthal's appeal and criticized her for not accepting her sentence of eight months in jail, 10 months probation and a NIS 70,000 fine. "Blumenthal's actions were severe and do not justify court intervention. She denied her actions throughout the trial and tainted her faithful driver. Her punishment cannot be reduced," wrote the judges. In what is being called the "Sheraton City Tower Affair," Blumenthal was convicted of bribing 15 Likud activists and hosting them in the Sheraton hotel before the December 2002 Likud Party primaries.

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