Omri Sharon appeals against 'harsh' sentence

Omri Sharon appealed to Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday against the sentence he received for concealing illegal contributions from secret donors to his father's 1999 campaign for leadership of the Likud. On February 13, Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Edna Bankenstein sentenced Sharon to nine months in jail, nine months suspended and a fine of NIS 300,000. He was found guilty of making false entries in the documents of a corporate body, making a false oath and violations of the Political Parties Law. Sharon and the state reached a plea bargain arrangement according to which he agreed to plead guilty to the two most serious charges, and the state would change two of the other charges to less serious ones. However, the two sides did not agree on what his sentence should be. His lawyer, Dan Scheinemann, insisted that his client not serve time in jail. The state insisted that he should. In his appeal, Scheinemann argued that in taking a "totally harsh approach," Bankenstein had ignored the fact that Sharon had accepted full responsibility for his actions, that he had expressed regret and that he had already paid a heavy price in the public realm for his deeds. He also stressed that Sharon had not resisted Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz's request to lift his immunity, that he had resigned from the Knesset and that he had announced he would not run again in the coming elections. He also maintained that that law governing campaign contributions was flawed. "It created a stumbling block which anyone could trip over," wrote Scheinemann. The law for funding primaries had been drafted hastily and not enough thought had been given to the realistic amount of money required to finance them, he charged. Furthermore,he argued that the court had ignored Sharon's personal circumstances at the time of the events. He said it was one of the hardest times in his client's life. His mother had developed cancer, forcing him to enter politics to help his father, a decision he made because of his great love for him. Scheinemann also charged that Bankenstein had paid no attention to the witnesses who testified to Sharon's good character and his willingness to help out and sacrifice himself for others.