Former MK convicted for double-voting

Yehiel Hazan (Likud) charged with forgery and breaches of trust in fraud case.

mk yehiel hazan 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
mk yehiel hazan 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Wednesday convicted former Likud MK Yair Hazan of forgery of a document with intent to obtain a benefit under aggravated circumstances, and fraud and breach of faith, for having voted twice on a clause in a government emergency economic plan approved on the night of May 28, 2003. After the conviction, Hazan continued to insist that he was innocent. Another former Likud MK, Michael Gorlovsky, is also facing the prospect of a trial on the same charges. During one of the many electronic votes held during the Knesset debate on the economic recovery plan, the scoreboard indicated that MK Inbal Gabrieli had cast her vote even though she was not in the plenum at the time. Hazan sat next to Gabrieli on the Likud benches. Despite suspicions that he had cast the vote, Hazan insisted that he had not. However, a few days later, United Torah Judaism MK Ya'acov Litzman informed the Knesset that he had seen Hazan lean across his seat to Gabrieli's and, immediately afterwards, observed that the electronic scoreboard had recorded her vote. According to the system in use at the time, in order for an MK to cast an electronic vote, he had to press two buttons, using both hands, and with a fair amount of force. During the police investigation and in court testimony, Hazan charged that Litzman was out to get Hazan because the Likud had not given in to haredi budget demands. He also maintained that the electronic system was so faulty that Gabrieli's vote might have been cast by itself. He also suggested that Gabrieli's other neighbor, MK Yuval Steinitz, might have voted on her behalf. However, the court rejected Hazan's arguments. It accepted Litzman's testimony as being reliable and discounted the possibility that the machine had registered Gabrieli's vote by mistake or that Steinitz had voted for her. "In voting twice," wrote Judge Haim Li-Ran, "the defendant created a document (in this case, a vote and its results,) which appears to be something that it is not, and is liable to mislead by reflecting more votes "against" than were actually cast." Li-Ran added that Hazan had a special interest in obtaining more votes for the Likud because he served as faction whip. The first charge for which Hazan was convicted calls for a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail. The second calls for a maximum sentence of three years. No date for sentencing has yet been set.