Suspect in Schalit scam just a fall guy, says lawyer

Defense lawyer says Ronen Bar-Shira is an innocent dupe in a larger scam, asks court to drop charges.

Gilad Schalit 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The defense lawyer for Ronen Bar-Shira, the man accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of shekels of donations, including money from the Free Gilad Schalit campaign, told the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday that his client was just an innocent dupe in a larger scam.
On these grounds, Bar Shira’s lawyer, David Ventura, asked the court to drop the charges against Bar-Shira.
Bar-Shira in court: I didn’t steal from Schalit campaign
Ventura said the Schalit campaign figure responsible for fundraising was Yoel Marshak, and reiterated a previous claim that Bar-Shira had been used as a fall guy because of a previous fraud conviction.
In court on Wednesday, Ventura said the “relevant person” was Marshak, and accused others connected with the Schalit campaign of being “opportunists” who “used public funds and donations however they pleased.”
Bar-Shira was indicted on a long list of fraud charges, including pocketing money given by donors to sponsor a protest flotilla, which was scheduled to sail last September but was later canceled at the request of the Schalit family.
Also accused alongside Bar Shira are three others, Aryeh Polasky, Shlomo Mor and Mordechai Ben-David.
Ventura accused Marshak of trying to obstruct the trial by visiting Bar-Shira in prison recently.
The prosecution confirmed Marshak’s visit to the prison but emphasized there was a difference between Marshak’s version and Bar-Shira’s with respect to the visit.
Judge Dr. Oded Mudrik told Ventura he would not hear a “lawsuit within a lawsuit.”
The prosecution also slammed Ventura’s claims that Marshak was also responsible, and said the defense had referred only to the first charge against Bar- Shira, whereas there were 15 other serious charges against him.
The prosecution said Marshak had not known Bar- Shira was depositing funds in his private bank account, which went against the Schalit campaign’s procedures.
“Marshak did not take money into his own pockets and he didn’t issue forged receipts,” the prosecution said.
Mudrik ruled he could not rule on the defense’s argument that the indictment against Bar-Shira should be canceled, at least until the court had heard Marshak’s testimony.
The judge recommended to the prosecution that it make Marshak the first witness in the case.