hanegbi at court_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday rejected the prosecution’s request to appeal a July ruling acquitting former Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi on charges of fraud and breach of trust.
The decision opens the door for Hanegbi to return to politics as a member of Knesset after the next elections, following his resignation from the Knesset in November.
The state had made it clear that it intended to appeal the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court two-to-one ruling acquitting Hanegbi of these more severe charges, but it could not do so until his sentencing. The sentence was handed down on November 9, leaving the prosecution 45 days to file its appeal.
However, during that period, the state attorneys went on strike, and the deadline passed without an appeal from the state. This meant the lower court ruling acquitting him of fraud and breach of trust was final. In accordance with the law, Hanegbi had resigned from the Knesset immediately following his conviction for perjury involving moral turpitude.
As soon as the prosecutors’ strike ended, on December 29, the state filed a request with the court to extend the appeal deadline, arguing that special circumstances had prevented it from filing the appeal on time and that the case was of utmost public importance.
In his response to the prosecution’s request, Hanegbi said he had
resigned from the Knesset with the understanding that the lower court
decision had become final. This was an irreversible act and there was no
way back now, even if he appealed his conviction and moral turpitude
ruling and the court accepted it.
In Thursday’s ruling, the judges subtly criticized Attorney-General
Yehuda Weinstein and State Attorney Moshe Lador for failing to take
action and file an appeal while the strike was ongoing.
“The heads of the legal system did not take part in the strike. Their
decision to handle only administrative tasks and avoid filing the appeal
during the strike, so as to, in their words, ‘honor the prosecutors’
right to strike,’ cannot substantiate a cause for accepting the motion,”
Judge Moussia Arad wrote in the ruling.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.