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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Likud MK Nomi Blumenthal described herself in court on Sunday as a woman who knew what poverty was and said that when she became financially better off, felt it was her duty to help those in need.
Blumenthal addressed Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court during a hearing on sentencing pleas, together with several character witnesses who testified to her generosity and pleasant nature.
Blumenthal was convicted last week of election bribery, obstruction of justice and subornation in connection with an investigation. The maximum penalty for the latter charge is five years in prison.
Her lawyer, Uri Wegman, asked the court to give his client a suspended sentence and a fine. She was convicted of paying NIS 12,000 for rooms for key Likud Central Party members at a posh hotel on the night before the elections for the party's slate of candidates for the 16th Knesset, and then trying to cover up her actions.
Blumenthal's political mentor, former MK Sarah Doron, brought tears to the defendant's eyes when she told Judges Ziva Herman-Hadassi, Rachel Greenberg and Dan Mor that she had known Blumenthal for 30 years and that she was always ready to help others beyond the obligations of a public servant. "There wasn't a single needy person who turned to her and did not receive help," said Doron. "She is a paragon of honesty and fairness. It is a different Nomi from the one that I heard about here [in court.] When you see Nomi, you see that an honest person can also succeed in politics."
Others who testified on her behalf included MK Roman Bronfman (Meretz-The Democratic Choice) and Yitzhak Levy (National Union Party). Wegman also presented letters of support from MKs Danny Yatom (Labor), Natan Sharansky (Likud), and Marina Solodkin (Kadima.)
Blumenthal said she was born in a small village to a poor family. Her mother sewed and her father left Israel and returned to Germany to practice law. "I worked all the years to help support the family," she told the court. "As I grew up, I was always told to help others and work for the community. After I met Michael [her husband] and my situation improved, I always told him, "We have, so we must help the others."