Benizri to get early release

Former cabinet minister will go free after serving two-thirds of his sentence, Prisons Service parole board decides.

Shlomo Benizri 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Shlomo Benizri 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former cabinet minister Shlomo Benizri, the cellmate of former president Moshe Katsav, will go free after serving two-thirds of his sentence, a Prisons Service parole board decided on Monday.
The decision was based on Benizri’s good conduct and the support he offered to other prisoners at the religious wing at Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle.
In April 2008, the Jerusalem District Court convicted Benizri of accepting bribes, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime, and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
The court found former Shas lawmaker guilty of accepting bribes from a contractor in exchange for information during his time as labor and welfare minister.
The prosecution appealed the district court’s ruling in the Supreme Court, which extended the former minister’s sentence to four years.
Then-Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy said in that judgment that “growing corruption in the Israeli government requires that action is taken by placing a higher price tag [on these crimes].”
Benizri began his sentence in the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle on September 1, 2009, and was scheduled for release in September 2013.
Speaking after the Parole Board’s decision, Benizri’s attorney, Yoram Malka, told Israel Radio that “even a Shasnik deserves a presidential pardon,” referring to Benizri’s request to Shimon Peres, filed two years ago.
“The president is president of both Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews,” Malka said.