(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen clearly signaled on Monday that despite former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski’s hospitalization late Sunday night, due to pneumonia, he would sentence him to jail time should the law so dictate.
Luploianski had been convicted of bribery in the Holyland trial.
Lupolianski’s lawyer Amos Van-Emden asked the court to sentence Lupolianski despite his being physically absent.
Furthermore, he said, the expert medical report he presented to the court proved that imprisoning Lupolianski could endanger his life.
Rozen challenged Van-Emden, saying that two top medical experts working for the Prisons Service had certified that Lupolianski’s health conditions – in relation to cancer, from which he has suffered in recent years – were, routinely treated by Prisons Service physicians and could continue to be so.
Rozen said that if the service’s experts confirmed they could handle Lupolianski’s condition and took responsibility for him, he could not rule that Lupolianski was too sick for jail – despite the respected expert report Van-Emden brought to contradict the Prisons Service experts.
The Holyland judge postponed Lupolianski’s sentencing until June 19, pending his release from hospital.
Despite Rozen’s comments, the former Jerusalem mayor may still avoid prison, as Rozen had repeatedly pressed the state to agree to giving Lupolianski a suspended sentence with no jail time.
Rozen implied that Lupolianski’s poor health, combined with the fact that he had not received any of the bribes personally and that all bribes had been paid to the Yad Sarah charity – at his request – could lead to a more lenient sentence.
It was not the first time Rozen had made that suggestion, but as the state requested six years in prison and Lupolianski pressed for acquittal, no plea bargain has yet been made.
Lupolianski had directed those paying bribes – such as Shmuel Duchner and Holyland Corporation owner Hillel Cherny – to public officials to overcome legal and zoning barriers for the South Jerusalem real estate project to donate between NIS 2 million and NIS 2.5m. to Yad Sarah – a charitable medical organization he founded.
He did this during the mid-to-late 1990s, when he was a top Jerusalem official who could approve, hasten or halt the Holyland project.
However, prior to conviction, there were doubts whether Lupolianski was aware that Duchner was donating the money to Yad Sarah with the intention of assuring Lupolianski’s cooperation and disregard for legal obstacles.
Rozen rejected Lupolianski’s claims that he was unaware that the funds given to Yad Sarah by Duchner and Cherny were bribes.
Also, on Monday, Rozen sentenced former Jerusalem municipal official Avraham Piner to six months’ prison for his involvement in the Holyland Affair – which, due to his medical condition, he will get to serve through community service.