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Under a plea bargain, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday convicted
far-right activist Avigdor Eskin of ordering the illegal wiretapping of
associates of Uzbek- Israeli businessman Michael Cherney.
bargain includes a penalty of six months of community service, probation and a
fine of NIS 20,000.
However Judge Cjana Miriam Lomp ruled that the court
will hear sentencing arguments at a later date.
According to the original
indictment, filed in January by the State Attorney’s office, Eskin was contacted
in 2007 by a Russian citizen, Alexei Drobashenko, who asked him to gather
information about Cherney in order to use it in a smear campaign.
then contacted Aviv Mor, a private investigator, who together with another PI,
Rafael Pridan, carried out wiretaps against Cherney’s secretary Elena Skir and
another of Cherney’s associates, the indictment contended.
further charged that Eskin was the link between Mor and Pridan and Drobashenko,
that he paid them each NIS 50,000 in cash for their services and that he also
received Hebrew translations of the wiretapped conversations.
previous trial in January 2010, Mor was convicted of wiretapping under a plea
bargain. Pridan was also convicted under a plea bargain of illegal wiretapping
Cherney, an Uzbek-born Israeli entrepreneur, has previously
claimed that the wiretapping case is linked to a civil suit, this time in
The businessman is currently suing another business rival, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in the Commercial
Court of the High Court in London. Cherney is seeking a 13 percent stake in UC
RUSAL, a multinational aluminum producer. The trial is expected to go ahead in
April 2012, and the judge has ruled that Cherney may give testimony from
In a statement after private investigator Mor’s conviction in
2010, Cherney alleged that a smear campaign had been launched against him in
connection with that lawsuit by Deripaska, for whom Drobashenko worked.