Judges rule former justice minister's actions didn't involve moral turpitude.
By DAN IZENBERG
Former justice minister Haim Ramon will not disclose his future plans until after Pessah, he told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, after Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court cleared the way for him to resume his political career.
The court upheld Ramon's conviction on charges of committing an indecent act by forcibly kissing a 20-year-old female soldier without her consent. However, it ruled that the crime did not involve moral turpitude, thus paving the way for Ramon to remain an MK and return to the cabinet.
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said he was pleased with the ruling.
Reactions: 'Ramon as minister is an indecent act'
"It is very good that the way is open for Ramon to return to political life," he told reporters at Bar-Ilan University Thursday. "I will be very happy if he decides to become active again. I think he has a lot to contribute."
But not everyone was as happy. The watchdog organization Legal Forum for the Land of Israel called on the state prosecution to appeal to Tel Aviv District Court against the lower court's decision not to declare that Ramon's crime involved moral turpitude. It also called on the government not to reappoint him to the cabinet, and warned that if it did, the Forum would petition the High Court of Justice.
As harshly worded as was Ramon's conviction by the court on January 31, so was his sentence conciliatory and even compassionate.
"We take into account the reasons for being lenient [with Ramon] as detailed above, and these have led us to the conclusion that the defendant's punishment must be very light so that the injury he suffers will be in proportion to the essence of the crime and the circumstances in which it was committed," the court wrote.
At the same time, the court rejected a recommendation by the Probation Service to cancel Ramon's conviction and order him to perform public service instead.
"Maintaining the conviction, despite the recommendation of the Probation Service, while determining that the crime did not involve moral turpitude, strikes the right balance between the various interests and gives appropriate expression to the various considerations that the case raised," the court wrote.
Judges Hayuta Kochan, Daniella Cherizli and Daniel Be'eri cited some considerations for leniency, including Ramon's public standing and the fact that his deed was unplanned, not part of a pattern of behavior and was a relatively light version of the prohibition for which he was convicted.
Both the Basic Law: Government and the Basic Law: Knesset make it clear that Ramon can continue with his political career since, according to the ruling, he does not meet their criteria for disqualification.
According to Paragraph 42A. (a) of the Basic Law: Knesset, "If a Knesset member has been convicted of a felony by a final verdict, and the court, by its own initiative or at the request of the attorney-general, has determined that the offense bears moral turpitude, his membership in the Knesset shall end on the day the court issued it final verdict."
According to Article 6. (c) of the Basic Law: Government, "A person who was convicted of an offense and sentenced to prison, and seven years have not yet passed - since the day on which he finished serving his period of punishment or since the handing down of the sentence, whichever was later - shall not be appointed a minister, unless the chairman of the Central Election Committee states that the circumstances of the offense do not involve moral turpitude. The Chairman of the Central Election Committee shall not so rule if the court determined that the offense involved moral turpitude."
The female soldier, who Ramon was ordered to give monetary compensation to, was asked by Channel 10 to react to the court's ruling.
"I decided I will give money to the needy," she said Thursday. "I didn't go to court for the money. The message that was conveyed by the case was that it is possible to stand up to someone strong, someone with ability. The money will mean more to them [poor people] than to me."
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