(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday received a letter from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu adding his voice to those pleading before the court not to find Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi guilty of moral turpitude in evidence, and, therefore, banned by Israeli law from serving in the Knesset for the next seven years.
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The prime minister's letter read, "in response to the verdict issued by the court and without attempting to interfere with the proceedings of the court, I request to present to your honors my opinion that the state would benefit if MK Hanegbi was allowed to fulfill public duties."
The Movement for Quality Government slammed Sunday what it described as “public lobbying” by prominent figures in favor of Hanegbi.
Army Radio reported on Sunday that a long line of politicians, diplomats, former IDF officers and others, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Kadima Faction Chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik, former president Yitzhak Navon and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel had submitted letters to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court via Hanegbi’s defense attorney, asking the court to find that Hanegbi’s crimes had not involved “moral turpitude.”
According to the law, if the court finds an MK guilty of a charge and explicitly determines that the crime involved moral turpitude, he or she will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years.
In a split decision two months ago, Judges Yoel Tsur, Aryeh Romanov and
Oded Shaham acquitted Hanegbi of prosecutors main charge of fraud and
breach of trust
, which was based on the allegation that as environmental
protection minister between 2001 and 2003, Hanegbi appointed 69 Likud
central committee members or their relatives to ministry jobs. As a
corollary, he was also charged with election bribery and seeking to
influence those with the power to vote.
While the central charge in the indictment was dropped, Romanov and
Shaham found Hanegbi guilty of perjury and making a false oath. The
state accused Hanegbi of lying under oath to the Election Committee,
headed by retired Supreme Court justice Mishael Cheshin, when he
testified that he had not written an article published in a Likud
Hanegbi tried to put a positive spin on the July ruling by the Jerusalem
Magistrate’s Court in which he was acquitted of three charges but
convicted of two others, by describing it as a “win-win” situation.