Court gives ex-lawyer president Efi Nave suspended sentence for border fraud

Efi Nave was sentenced to a two-month suspended sentence for violation of customs border security at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2018.

Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019 (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)
Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019
(photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday sentenced former Israel Bar Association President Efi Nave to a two-month suspended sentence for violating customs border security at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2018.

The court did not issue a finding of moral turpitude, which would have blocked Nave from future public service roles.

His sentencing follows a September conviction, which itself was a final slap to the man who was once in many ways the country’s decisive figure in shaping the Supreme Court via an alliance he formed with then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked.

Although the conviction was years in the making, Nave already knew he had an uphill battle after the Supreme Court rejected one of his central claims in 2019.

Nave and the Supreme Court

 Supreme Court Chief of Justice Ester Hayut with Supreme Court judge George Karra and Supreme court justices at a ceremony held for outgoign Supreme Court judge George Karra, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Supreme Court Chief of Justice Ester Hayut with Supreme Court judge George Karra and Supreme court justices at a ceremony held for outgoign Supreme Court judge George Karra, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on May 29, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

He had sought to blow a hole in the prosecution’s case by claiming that many people perpetrate the crime he was being prosecuted for, and that the enforcement against him was so arbitrary that it was illegal.

To move his legal fight forward, Nave demanded that the prosecution reveal all evidence related to similar cases so that he could try to sideline the trial against him in a spin-off trial over arbitrary enforcement.

While the Supreme Court allowed Nave to still submit specific requests for specific items of evidence to help him make his arbitrary enforcement argument, it rejected his demand for comprehensive disclosure by the state prosecution.

On Tuesday, the court explained that Nave was given a relatively lenient sentence in recognition of having a prior clean record and of his years of public service.

Curiously, though, the court ignored a different legal saga.

That 2019 legal blow to Nave came only days after the state prosecution announced that it would likely indict him for bribery in a sex-for-judgeship scandal.

Although the sex-for-judgeship case was eventually closed in March 2021 – because Nave’s intent was a mix of legal and illegal motivations – it was that scandal which dislodged him from power over the lawyers’ association.

Moreover, a finding of lack of sufficient evidence as opposed to one of allegations being baseless is often a sign that law enforcement believes a suspect is guilty but does not think it will win in court given the personalities and dynamics involved.