NGO asks High Court to think twice about legality of Deri as minister

Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel claims court panel invented a new more lenient legal precedent for convicted public servant’s to return to being ministers.

By
August 27, 2015 19:07
1 minute read.
Arey Deri

Arye Deri. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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An NGO requested a rare appeal to a broader panel of the High Court of Justice about the legality of Arye Deri being economy minister following an August 13 ruling of a standard three-justice panel that his appointment was borderline unreasonable, but legal.

Deri was forced to resign in 1993 amid a corruption investigation, after five years as interior minister. In 2000, he was convicted of bribery, fraud and violation of trust, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released in 2002 after serving 22 months.

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He also waited more than the seven-year cooling off period for returning to politics and was not reinstated as Shas party leader until 2012.

The NGO, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel, wrote in its request that the three-justice panel had invented a new, more lenient legal precedent for convicted public servant’s to return to being ministers and had improperly thrown out the prior limits.

The movement said that in the past there were 12 factors to be considered regarding convicted officials returning to become a cabinet minister and that the High Court had virtually ignored all of them other than the time that had elapsed since Deri’s offense.

The court had noted that even as Deri was released from prison in 2002, the actual offenses took place nearly 30 year before.

In contrast, the NGO said that the court did not give proper weight to the severity of the offenses, with Deri’s crime of bribery being the worst of the public corruption crimes, and the specific need for the individual, Deri, in the ministerial spot.



While the earlier High Court panel questioned the reasonableness of Deri’s appointment, it also emphasized the prime minister’s discretion: “In light of all of the considerations we examined... and in light of the prime minister’s broad discretion in such matters, we did not find grounds to intervene.”

Appeals to a broader High Court panel are rare, are even more rarely granted, and it is extremely seldom that a broader panel reverses the decision of a smaller panel.

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