Shlomo Benizri 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former cabinet minister Shlomo Benizri, the cellmate of former president Moshe
Katsav, will go free after serving two-thirds of his sentence, a Prisons Service
parole board decided on Monday.
The decision was based on Benizri’s good
conduct and the support he offered to other prisoners at the religious wing at
Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle.
In April 2008, the Jerusalem District Court
convicted Benizri of accepting bribes, breach of trust, obstruction of justice
and conspiracy to commit a crime, and sentenced him to 18 months in
The court found former Shas lawmaker guilty of accepting bribes
from a contractor in exchange for information during his time as labor and
The prosecution appealed the district court’s ruling in
the Supreme Court, which extended the former minister’s sentence to four
Then-Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy said in that judgment that
“growing corruption in the Israeli government requires that action is taken by
placing a higher price tag [on these crimes].”
Benizri began his sentence
in the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle on September 1, 2009, and was scheduled for
release in September 2013.
Speaking after the Parole Board’s decision,
Benizri’s attorney, Yoram Malka, told Israel Radio that “even a Shasnik deserves
a presidential pardon,” referring to Benizri’s request to Shimon Peres, filed
two years ago.
“The president is president of both Ashkenazi Jews and
Sephardic Jews,” Malka said.