State demands 7-yr jail term for Benizri

Prosecution also requests that moral turpitude be included in Shas MK's fraud conviction.

Benizri 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Benizri 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The state threw the book at Shas MK Shlomo Benizri on Tuesday, urging the Jerusalem District Court to sentence him to seven years in prison and to rule that his crimes involved moral turpitude. On April 1, Judge Ya'acov Tsaban convicted Benizri of accepting bribes, breach of faith, obstructing justice and conspiracy to commit a crime. The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years, while two of the other three carry maximum sentences of three years each. Benizri's lawyers - Moshe Ostditsher, Amir Liran and Benny Nahari - asked the court to give the former minister of labor and social affairs a suspended sentence. Prosecutor Nurit Litman told the court it had to send an unequivocal message that for the severe crimes Benizri committed, he must be sent to prison for a long time. Benizri listened to the prosecutor with hands clasped and an expressionless face. His spiritual mentor, Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, who was also convicted of accepting a bribe as an intermediary and of conspiracy to commit a crime, sat on the bench beside him. After Benizri was convicted two weeks ago, Ostditsher said he would appeal to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, should Tsaban determine that Benizri's crimes did indeed involve moral turpitude, he would immediately be suspended from the Knesset until the Supreme Court rules on the appeal. Benizri was charged with accepting bribes from Moshe Sela, a foreign-labor contractor. The bribes included paying legal fees for a lawsuit that Benizri was involved in, furniture, an air conditioning system, and the renovation and painting of Benizri's apartment, including knocking down a wall separating it from an adjacent one owned by Sela. Benizri was convicted of, in return, trying to tip a tender for 4,000 foreign agricultural workers who could be moved from one employer to another and other interventions on Sela's behalf. Elbaz was convicted of accepting NIS 200,000 and $30,000 in gifts for the rabbi's yeshiva, Ohr Hahayim.