Shas chief Deri to resign from Knesset under tax case plea deal

Deal will also see disgraced Opposition lawmaker pay a fine of NIS 180,000 and plead guilty to two tax offenses in exchange for suspended sentence; he vows to continue leading the Haredi party; Deri previously served 22 months in prison

Associated Press, Ynet|
Shas leader Aryeh Deri has signed a plea deal over tax offenses that will see him resign from Knesset, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.
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  • In addition to his resignation, the deal will also see the leader of the Ultra-Orthodox party plead guilty to two tax offenses, as well as pay a fine of NIS 180,000 (57,000 dollar) in exchange for a suspended sentence.
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    אריה דרעי
    אריה דרעי
    Shas leader Aryeh Deri
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who filed the charges, stated that he will not claim Deri acted on the grounds of "moral turpitude" - which would have seen the disgraced Shas leader banned from politics for seven years.
    Mandelblit will retain the right to do so in the future if Deri decides to return to politics.
    The controversial deal sparked criticism from various good governance groups, who claimed it let Deri off easy and paved the way for a swift comeback despite his alleged crimes.
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    אביחי מנדלבליט בכנס למשפט של הפקולטה למשפטים באונ' חיפה
    אביחי מנדלבליט בכנס למשפט של הפקולטה למשפטים באונ' חיפה
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
    (Photo: Sharon Tzur)
    Deri, on his part, stated that he intends to continue leading the Ultra-Orthodox Shas movement in the future.
    "I have decided to take responsibility for mistakes made without malicious intent, in order to put the affair behind me. I will, however, continue to focus on my public activities and lead the Shas movement with full force and faith," said Deri, who is widely expected to return to parliament at the helm of Shas whenever next elections are called.
    The plea deal came almost a year after Mandelblit announced he intends to file charges against Deri for tax offenses only, despite the police's recommendation that the Shas chairman be prosecuted for fraud and breach of trust, money laundering, obstruction of justice and perjury.
    Deri was previously sentenced to three years in prison for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in 2000 during a stint as interior minister in the 1990s. He served 22 months in prison but made a political comeback and retook the reins of Shas in 2013.
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