(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem District Court prosecutors in
the crucial part of MK Tzahi Hanegbi’s sentencing submitted a request to
reject letters written by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and other public officials who rallied to support
their political rival by adding their signatures to a growing pile of
letters asking the court to clear him of moral turpitude.
Representatives of the State Prosecutor's Office said that "Tzahi Hanegbi's crimes are a classic case of moral turpitude, which stems from ongoing criminal activity."
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The prosecution requested that that the court also suspend Hanegbi from the Knesset.
They stressed that they wish to prevent Hanegbi from serving in the current government but did not have any intention of making serve a jail sentence.
"Hanegbi did not take responsibility, and therefore did not express remorse. This is not a momentary lapse of judgment," one of the prosecutors explained.
"Perjury is considered to be a crime that moral turpitude is inherent in it," the prosecutors said.
who has faced off against Hanegbi for many years, wrote in a letter to
the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that “since 2007, when I returned to
serve as defense minister, I have worked shoulder to shoulder with MK
Hanegbi as part of his service as chairman of the Knesset Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee on a very wide variety of sensitive and
important issues. The extent of his experience, his bipartisan
perspective, his great success in his position and the discretion that
characterize him stood after the 2009 elections at the basis of my
willingness – in consultation with the prime minister – to retain his
position at the head of this important committee despite the fact that
he is an opposition member.”
Barak added that he believed the
court should “consider” determining that Hanegbi had not committed an
act of moral turpitude. In July, the MK was cleared of a number of the
original charges listed in his indictment, but was found guilty of
making false testimony in a probe by the State Comptroller’s office that
concerned over 100 political appointments made while he served as a
minister for the Likud Party.
Hanegbi’s political career was put
on hold while he first awaited trial. The July ruling kept his political
future uncertain: Had he been found guilty of two additional charges in
the indictment – fraud and violation of the public trust – his fate
would have been clearer.
In addition to the letters, Hanegbi’s defense team has
enlisted the support of three character witnesses to testify during the
Earlier this week, the Movement for Quality Government slammed what it
described as “public lobbying” by prominent figures in favor of Hanegbi,
labeling it as “inappropriate, degrading and embarrassing.” It launched
an online petition calling for the exact opposite, for Hanegbi to be
found guilty of moral turpitude. Almost 500 people have signed the
petition thus far, and on Wednesday the movement stepped up its
campaign, threatening to go to the Supreme Court if Hanegbi is absolved.