The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentenced Omri Sharon to a nine-month prison term, a nine-month suspended sentence, and a NIS 300,000 (USD 65,000) fine after he was convicted of violating political fundraising laws and providing false testimony.
Sharon’s attorneys have already announced they would appeal the sentence.
Video: Yaron Brenner
Judge Edna Beckenstein decided to take Ariel Sharon’s condition into consideration and delay the implementation of the sentence by six months. Gavriel Manor, Omri Sharon’s associate in the affair, was sentenced to a nine-month suspended sentence.
“(Omri) Sharon deceived the campaign headquarters he was working for, as well as the party and the public,” Judge Beckenstein said, adding that he had established two separate account systems – one hidden and the other exposed – thus endangering the election results.
'Kadima is corrupt'
Politicians from the Left and Right lauded the court's decision to send Omri Sharon to prison, while members of the Kadima party were stunned by the severe sentence.
Kadima chose not to issue an official statement in response to the sentence, but the party's strategic advisor Lior Horev issued a "personal response," and said the court's ruling failed to take the case's special circumstances into consideration.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Michael Eitan (Likud) said Sharon's sentence was justified and that it would serve to deter other corrupt public servants.
"I hope the public will internalize this important message from the court," he added.
Members of the Labor party were also quick to praise the court's decision, while at the same time leveling criticism at Kadima.
"Omri Sharon is one of Kadima's founders and its executive officer," Labor member Shelly Yechimovitz said. "This party is a corrupt combination of politics and financial interests. The court made an important statement Tuesday that everyone is equal before the law."
Knesset Member Zvi Hendel (National Union-National Religious Party) also said he was pleased with Sharon junior's sentence, but added Omri "will only go to jail for a few months, but the State of Israel may be jailed for a number of years behind the bars of Kadima, which was established and built by Omri and his corrupt group."
Attorneys for the prosecution expressed their satisfaction with the sentence.
“We asked the court to sentence Omri Sharon to a prison term, which we believe suits the acts he committed, and the court thought so too. This is a message to public figures," attorney Erez Nurieli said.
Omri Sharon (left) and Gavriel Manor in court (Photo: Eli Elgarat)
Defense Attorney Navit Negev said “this is a severe sentence that deviates drastically from the legal precedents and we plan to appeal to the District Court.”
“Omri admitted to his offenses in the indictment and clearly took responsibility for his actions by resigning from Knesset despite the fact that the (fundraising) law is problematic and has never been enforced” she said.
“It must be remembered that 1999 was a very difficult year for Omri, during which his mother got cancer and he found himself in politics without any experience.”
Omri Sharon was convicted of offences stemming from illegal fundraising during the prime minister's 1999 Likud primaries campaign. The affair was uncovered two years later in an investigative report by Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's leading newspaper.
At the end of his trial, Omri Sharon turned to the judges and told them "1999 was one of the most difficult years in my life. It was the year my mother discovered she had cancer…I made severe mistakes and I'm sorry about that. I took responsibility for my acts and I hope the court will take my comments into account when it sentences me."