Perinian sentencing may not be affected by court rejection of plea bargain

A Tel Aviv District Court decision Thursday rejecting the plea bargain agreement in the case of Eran Hiya and Gadi Hazan, who are charged with murdering former cop turned hitman Tzahi Ben-Or, is unlikely to influence the outcome of next week's court decision in the matter of the Perinian brothers, who reportedly ordered the hit on Ben-Or, according to a source close to the Justice Ministry. Each agreement stands on its own merits and there is no connection between them, the source said. On March 8, Tel Aviv District Court is due to hand down its decision on the sentencing of Sharon and Oded Perinian. According to the plea bargain agreement, each was expected to receive a sentence of five years in jail on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime. The maximum sentence for the crime is seven years. Therefore, the most the court could do would be to increase each of the sentences by two years. The state originally charged the brothers with murder, maintaining that not only had they ordered Ben-Or and Shimon Elmekayis to kill underworld figure Pinhas Buhbut, but that they were themselves directly involved in the killing. However, before the case came to court, the state concluded that it would have a hard time providing sufficient evidence to prove the brothers' direct involvement. Meanwhile, the Perinians' lawyers, David Yiftah and Moshe Sherman, approached the prosecution and asked if it was interested in reaching a plea bargain agreement. The two sides agreed to the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit a crime and a sentence of five years for each of the brothers, in addition of a payment of NIS 100,000 in compensation to Buhbut's widow. On Wednesday, the same court rejected another plea bargain agreement reached in the case of Hiya and Hazan, who had originally been charged with murdering Ben-Or in Cancun, Mexico and attempting to murder his girlfriend, Joana Darli. The court said it was dissatisfied with the sentences of eight years for Hiya and four years for Hazan and increased them to 13 and six years, respectively. The same thing could happen again should the court find fault with the amended charge brought against the Perinian brothers. In the wake of the plea bargain agreement, the state is accusing them of conspiracy to commit a crime, which it describes as murder. However, it does not link the conspiracy to commit murder to the actual murder of Buhbut. According to the state, there is a gap between the conspiracy to commit murder and the actual murder itself. The court has no choice but to accept the description of the facts as set down in the indictment. However, it could determine that given the circumstances of the case, the sentences to which the state agreed were too light.