naomi blumenthal 298 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former MK Nomi Blumenthal's appeal was rejected by the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday afternoon.
Blumenthal, convicted of bribery and obstruction of justice, will have to serve an 8-month prison sentence.
"The severity of Blumenthal's actions does not merit our interference in her sentence. Throughout the entire trial, she denied any wrongdoing and slandered her loyal driver. Her sentence cannot be reduced," the judges explained.
Blumenthal is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
According to the charges against her, Blumenthal met with her driver, Avi Oski, who later turned state's witness, and Elnekaveh on December 5, 2002 and decided to invite 12 Likud Party Central Committee members to a swank hotel in Ramat Gan two days later, on the eve of the committee vote for the slate of candidates. Blumenthal paid for the rooms.
One week later, after media reports began to surface about corruption in the central committee elections, including allegations aimed at Blumenthal, she summoned the two men and her campaign advisor, Shlomo Harel, to a meeting at 11 p.m. in a parking lot and told them to stick to a version of events that she had concocted. According to the story, Elnekaveh had paid for the rooms with money loaned to him by Blumenthal.
The story collapsed when Oski turned state's witness.
In its verdict, the court rejected the main defense submitted by Blumenthal's lawyer to the effect that since it had always been common practice for election candidates to host would-be supporters, Blumenthal should have received advance warning that the state's policy had changed.
"We are talking about normative law and behavior," the judges wrote. "Everyone knows that you don't buy votes with money or favors."
The court also ruled that the crimes Blumenthal committed involved moral turpitude. That means that she will not be allowed to serve in the Knesset for seven years.
Blumenthal was elected to the 18th spot on the Likud's list of candidates for the 17th Knesset and stands a good chance of being reelected. The ruling barring her from the Knesset is not final and depends upon whether Blumenthal decides to appeal to Tel Aviv District Court against her conviction and sentence, and the outcome of such an appeal.
Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.