Omri Sharon's advisors decry verdict

Former advisor Spector: Extensive evidence has yet to be released.

omri sharon 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
omri sharon 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon David Spector said Wednesday that law enforcement agencies were retaining extensive evidence on the Cyril Kern and Omri Sharon straw companies scandals that hasn't yet been released. In an interview to Army Radio, Spector said that prime ministerial advisor Dov Weisglass also knew that Omri Sharon managed straw companies that financed Ariel Sharon's elections campaign, and that it was possible that even Ariel Sharon himself was aware of that fact. "I was hired by Ariel Sharon and asked to do [this] by Dov Weisglass, who was behind the dummy companies. But the attorney general didn't indict him," Spector said. Other sources close to Omri Sharon expressed their anger on Wednesday with Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Edna Bankenstein, following Sharon's sentence on Tuesday to nine months in jail. Sharon's associates claimed that the judge was biased against him from the outset of the trial. Sharon will appeal the nine-month jail sentence and NIS 300,000 fine handed down Tuesday by Judge Bankenstein, his lawyer, Navit Negev said. "This is a severe and exceptional punishment that deviates extremely from the judicial precedents up until now," Negev told reporters. "We intend to appeal against the sentence to the Tel Aviv District Court." In her strongly worded verdict, Bankenstein wrote: "In recent times, we repeatedly hear the words, 'the political swamp.' The court's role in draining the swamp is to appropriately punish those who commit crimes in the midst of a political procedure and contaminate it. And let those who commit crimes like the ones in this affair, attempt to commit them or help others commit them, be aware that the law will come down hard, not easy, on them." According to Bankenstein, the extra degree of severity in the case was "the fact that Sharon concealed his goal and the way he did it. He didn't leave anything to chance, everything was carefully planned. He prepared a detailed plan of what he wanted to do and how to conceal his actions from those he worked with. "In his actions, he endangered the outcome of the elections - that is, he endangered the democratic process from which the democratic system derives its strength and its very existence." The judge wrote that Sharon was well aware of the Political Parties Law, which imposed limits on the amount of money that a primary candidate could spend on his campaign. By raising money illegally, the judge wrote, Sharon had violated the principle of equality in democracy. In doing so, he also opened himself up to the possibility of blackmail by the very people who gave him the illegal funds. Bankenstein rejected the defense's argument that no one had ever been punished for violating the laws governing campaign contributions. If that was true, she wrote, then it was time to start enforcing them to deter others from doing the same thing. The judge took Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's illness into consideration in her ruling, stating that Omri Sharon's jail sentence would not begin until six months from the day the sentence was handed down.