Photo: Dan Balilty
Shlomo Benizri
Photo: Dan Balilty
Photo: Avi Cohen
Rabbi Reuven Elbaz
Photo: Avi Cohen

MK Benizri convicted of bribery

Jerusalem court finds Shas member guilty of passing on advance information to building contractor in exchange for perks worth millions of shekels; Benizri's spiritual, political patron, Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, of facilitating and accepting bribes

Shas party Knesset Member Shlomo Benizri was convicted by the Jerusalem's District Court Tuesday on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, committed during his tenure as labor and welfare minister.


Two years ago Benizri was indicted for passing on advance information to building contractor Moshe Sela which included details on the quota of foreign laborers expected to arrive in Israel.


The prosecution said that in return for this information the Shas member had received perks worth millions of shekels, including large sums of money, expensive furniture, cleaning services, electrical appliances and help in expanding his apartment.


The MK was also convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and disrupting court proceedings. His spiritual and political patron, Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, was convicted of facilitating and accepting bribes and conspiracy to commit fraud.


During the trial, Sela, who became a state witness, said he financed various construction works and renovations at Benizri's home and claimed that the Shas MK had attempted to disrupt legal proceedings. 


The State further announced that it will be asking for a moral turpitude clause to be included in Benizri's sentence.


Should the court grant the motion, and in accordance to a newly passed bill, initiated in late 2006 by MKs Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor-Meimad), Benizri will be suspended from the Knesset automatically.


Later Tuesday, MK Ran Cohen told Ynet he believed Benizri must step down from all Knesset activities following his conviction.


“It is unfathomable that an MK participate in Knesset votes and other crucial activities after he was convicted of such grave offenses,” said Cohen.


Amnon Meranda contributed to this article



פרסום ראשון: 04.01.08, 11:16
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