INTERIOR MINISTER Arye Deri at the Knesset.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The attorney-general must decide the fate of Interior Minister Arye Deri and his criminal cases before the upcoming election, said an NGO in a petition filed with the High Court of Justice on Monday.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel said that Avichai Mandelblit has a duty to the public to clarify for them whether he will be seeking to indict Deri so that they will have a full picture of the Shas party leader’s status come election day on April 9.
According to the movement, even if there might be considerations for waiting until after the election to announce a decision to indict or close the corruption probes against Deri, a number of unique factors in his case demand an immediate decision.
First, the petition said that the criminal investigation was started in March 2016 and should have been decided long ago.
In fact, it said that the prosecution had already dragged its feet on the case and that absent foot-dragging, there would be no question about deciding before or after the election.
Second, the petition noted that Deri has already been convicted of bribery before
and served jail time, as well as being banned from political office for a decade. It framed him not an angel with a clean record, but rather as a serial offender, who needs to be thrown out of office and put behind bars as soon as possible.
The movement filed other petitions in the past to prevent Deri from being appointed interior minister due to his past criminal record, but the High Court ruled that Deri’s appointment was legal since he had served his time and had been supported as a minister by the general public and the government.
Moreover, the NGO said that public confidence in government has suffered and continues to suffer as long as someone allegedly corrupt like Deri remains in office.
The petition to force Mandelblit to decide about Deri comes as the attorney-general has foreshadowed to the public that he will be announcing a decision of intent to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before February 21, in spite of the prime minister’s objections that this will interfere with the election.
While Mandelblit’s reply to the organization’s petition will be forthcoming, The Jerusalem Post
has learned what some of the responses may be. The Netanyahu case was fully handed over to the attorney-general by the district attorney in December, and police recommendations against the prime minister were given in multiple cases by February 2018.
In contrast, the district attorney has not yet given recommendations to Mandelblit regarding Deri and the police recommendations against Deri were not issued until November.
Even when the November recommendations were made, issues related to some of Deri’s family members were potentially still up in the air.
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