aryeh deri 224.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jerusalem District Court will decide on Thursday whether or not to accept a petition filed by Aryeh Deri demanding that he be allowed to run in the Jerusalem mayoral elections on November 11, Judge Moshe Sobel said at the end of a hearing on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz called on the court to turn down the arguments raised by Deri's lawyer, Zvi Agmon, in defense of the petition.
"They should be rejected," the state's representative, attorney Einav Golomb, told the court in a written response to Deri's petition.
Before the hearing began, Deri told reporters, "the basic right to elect and be elected overcomes all other considerations."
Deri added that he would accept whatever decision the judge made "with love," but he believed there was a chance the court would accept his petition. Deri also said "Jerusalem is in dire straits and I think I am suited to be in charge of it."
The dispute over whether or not Deri is eligible to run is linked to the question of whether the court's ruling that he had been guilty of moral turpitude was still in effect. He was convicted by the Jerusalem District Court on April 15, 1999, on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of faith and receiving something by deceit under aggravated circumstances. The court sentenced him to four years in jail, which was later reduced to three by the Supreme Court. Deri was released from prison on July 15, 2002.
His crimes involved moral turpitude, a determination that has some practical applications. According to current law, a person who has served at least three months in jail for crimes involving moral turpitude may not run for local office for seven years from the end of his jail sentence.
Deri's lawyer, Agmon, argued that the restrictions imposed by "moral turpitude" constituted punishment above and beyond the jail sentence and fine the court had handed down. According to the law, Agmon argued, Deri's punishment could not exceed that meted out to him at the end of his trial.
He also argued that at the time Deri was sentenced, the law stated that a person convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude could not run for local authority office for six years. A law passed after he was convicted could not be applied retroactively, and therefore the law that continued to apply to Deri only barred him from running for six years, said Agmon. By election day, Deri will have been out of jail for six years and four months.
Mazuz rejected both arguments. He said the constraints involved in moral turpitude were not meant to further punish the defendant but to protect the public from a potentially unreliable or dishonest public representative.
As for the question of which law applied to Deri, Mazuz argued that it was the current law. Furthermore, he said he was not even certain whether the seven-year period should be counted from the time the convicted person left prison - since he might be paroled after completing two-thirds of his sentence - or from the end of the full sentence handed down by the court.
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