NGO decries VIP lobbying of the court on Hanegbi’s behalf

Hearings begin today on sentencing for perjury, and to determine whether Kadima MK will be banned from politics for 7 years.

Hanegbi 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hanegbi 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Movement for Quality Government slammed Sunday what it described as “public lobbying” by prominent figures in favor of MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima).
Army Radio reported on Sunday that a long line of politicians, diplomats, former IDF officers and others, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Kadima Faction Chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik, former president Yitzhak Navon and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel had submitted letters to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court via Hanegbi’s defense attorney, asking the court to find that Hanegbi’s crimes had not involved “moral turpitude.”
According to the law, if the court finds an MK guilty of a charge and explicitly determines that the crime involved moral turpitude, he or she will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years.
The hearings on the subject are slated to begin Monday as part of the sentencing hearings for Hanegbi, who was found guilty of false testimony in a state comptroller’s probe.
The NGO launched an alternate petition Sunday signed by members of the general public calling on the court to rule that Hanegbi’s perjury regarding his controversial political appointments indeed involved moral turpitude.
The Movement for Quality government said that the lobbying on Hanegbi’s behalf was “inappropriate, degrading and embarrassing.”
“The movement was shocked by the approaches to the Magistrate’s Court made by those who asked that Hanegbi not be found to have acted with criminal intent – it should have been obvious that such inappropriate and questionable approaches should not have been made,” said the organization, in a statement published Sunday.
Hanegbi was cleared of a number of the original charges listed in his indictment, but was found guilty of delivering false testimony in the case, which concerned over 100 political appointments made while he served as a environment minister for the Likud Party.
While clean-government advocates said that such appointments cannot be condoned, there has been no legal precedent for convicting current or former ministers of corruption for appointing party supporters to government positions.
Hanegbi’s political future has been unclear for eight years, as the legal process played itself out. For the past four years, while on trial, he could not accept any cabinet positions.
The court’s ruling in his case left his political future still uncertain. Had he been found guilty of the two additional charges in the indictment – fraud and breach of trust – his fate would have been clearer.
In its online petition calling for Hanegbi to be found to have acted with moral turpitude, the Movement for Quality Government called on “public figures and members of the general public to join the public call that anyone who morally failed in their public duties should not be allowed to return once again to the political arena and to repeatedly damage the public’s faith in its leaders.”
The petition enjoyed limited success, garnering fewer than 100 signatures in its first day.