Dr. Sarov: 'I was afraid of Abutbul'

Ex-emergency room director at Ichilov submits appeal on grounds that he acted under threat.

Sarov  248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Sarov 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Dr. Jacky Sarov, the former emergency room director at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, who was sentenced in March to 15 months in jail for accepting bribes from alleged crime boss Assi Abutbul, submitted an appeal to the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday. According to the appeal filed by his attorneys, the doctor addressed Abutbul's conviction last month, saying "how could the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court have rejected [my] claims that [I] acted out of gripping fear and paralysis. Indeed, the Tel Aviv District Court, when convicting Abutbul, said decisively that he sowed terror around him." Last month, Abutbul was sentenced to 13 years in prison for heading a criminal organization. "Abutbul's name made people's blood run cold," read Abutbul's charge sheet. Sarov's attorneys further claimed that "the idea that only a tangible, immediate physical threat using a weapon or violence sows terror proved to be gravely mistaken when it came to Assi Abutbul. Abutbul didn't even need to threaten the appellant. His mere silence was threatening. His very presence was threatening and everything he portrayed to Sarov, a normal person who never had any problems with the law, was threatening." The attorneys added that there was not enough evidence to prove the acceptance of bribes. The appeal is due to be heard in September. At his sentencing in March, Sarov was also given a 15-month suspended sentence and fined NIS 15,000. According to the conviction handed down by the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in January, on three occasions, Sarov took sums ranging from NIS 800 to NIS 1,000 to arrange medical visits for Abutbul without appointment while the latter was under house arrest. At the time, the court rejected Sarov's claim that he had been frightened of Abutbul and that the alleged crime boss had unilaterally and surprisingly pushed money into the doctor's pockets. Reich-Shapira ruled that the offense included moral turpitude, and said that the relatively low sum Sarov took was irrelevant since the fact that he accepted a bribe at all harmed the reputation of hospitals and public sector workers. "The circumstances under which the accused accepted the bribes are severe," she had said. "He committed a crime against his position, and three times he abused the trust granted to him. Therefore, and in accordance with the law, moral turpitude must be attached to the offense." She had gone on to clarify that Sarov's future as a practicing doctor would be determined "by the qualified bodies and in accordance with legal directives." Sarov cried when he heard the sentence. "I have committed a crime. I am not a righteous man, but I thought I'd get community service," he said. "I didn't expect a punishment like this. There is no correlation between the punishment and what I did. Even the prosecutor is in shock."