'I made serious mistakes'

Omri pled guilty; sentence could include jail time or community service.

omri sharon 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
omri sharon 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Judge Edna Bankenstein of the Tel Aviv District Court was expected to hand down a sentence in Omri Sharon's case on Tuesday. Sharon was convicted of making false entries into a corporate document and making false testimony, as well as violating provisions of the Political Parties law. He secretly collected NIS 6 million, more than NIS 5 million above the legal ceiling, for his father's primary campaign for head of the Likud Party in 1999. He maintained two sets of books to conceal the income from the illegal donations that came from the US. While he could be sent to prison, he might be let off comparatively light with a sentence of community service. "I made mistakes along the way, serious mistakes, and I'm sorry about that," Omri Sharon told Tel Aviv Magistrates Court on Wednesday, as he pleaded for a light sentence for the crimes he admitted having committed. "Those who know me, know I'm not good at making long speeches," he began his defense. "I prefer to concentrate on acts, preferably quietly. Despite this fact, it is important for me to speak to the court and say a few words in my own way. "1999, the year this case deals with, was one of the hardest in my life and the life of my family. It was the year my mother was discovered to have cancer and I found myself, without any previous political experience or any connection to public life, trying to help my father and his views, which I supported. I tried to give him the support my mother had given him all those years and could not give him any more. "In those years, my father's political circumstances were worse than ever, but I, with complete faith in him and in the knowledge that his way and his leadership were right and appropriate for Israel, took upon myself the mission of trying to bring him to victory in the primaries and, afterwards, in the general election. I have an enormous amount of love for my father, I did then and I do now. My desire to help and support my father and his policies was very strong. I made mistakes along the way, serious mistakes, and I'm sorry about that. Sharon added that he had accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to his actions in a clear and unequivocal way, had resigned from the Knesset and did not intend to run for the next one. "I hope the court will take my words into consideration when it comes to sentencing me," he continued. "As I said, I am not a great speaker, but it was important for me to say these things." Sharon's lawyer, Dan Scheinemann, told the court it would "absurd" to sentence his client to jail. "This is not a person who should be sent to jail," he said. "It would be a miscarriage of justice to do so. Is it because he's Omri Sharon? The case doesn't involve corruption but improper administration. Omri has paid and is paying a terrible price for his actions, as well as a heavy personal price." Scheinemann added that he never dreamed that in making his concluding speech, he would be ringing down the curtain on the role of the Sharon family in Israeli politics.