The trial of the former chief Sephardic Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron began Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court.
Bakshi-Doron is facing fraud charges, to which the State wishes to attach aggravated circumstances. He arrived in court accompanied by dozens of followers, who tried to serve as a "human buffer" between him and the media.
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Bakshi-Doron is standing trial for his alleged part in a case dubbed "the rabbis' files" by the police.
Authorities suspect that Bakshi-Doron, and several other rabbis, falsely ordained hundreds of security officers as rabbis so that they may be eligible for a pay raise.
According to the indictment, between 1999 and 2003 some 1,500 IDF and police officers attended various religious colleges for a number of hours a week but were granted diplomas as if they completed five years of studies.
The State alleged that the system defrauded the government out of hundreds of millions of shekels.
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