Knesset Member and Jerusalem mayoral hopeful Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) testified Monday before the Jerusalem District Court, on behalf of Israel Valas, an ultra-Orthodox man convicted of killing his three-month-old son.
Porush, along with several other prominent figures in the ultra-Orthodox community, was called in as character witnessed for the defense, which is trying to convince the court to order a light sentence.
Valas, who was convicted of manslaughter in July, was arrested in April on 2006 on suspicion of abusing and subsequently killing his infant son. His arrest sparked mass protest by haredi youths, who rioted in the capital's streets, demanding his release.
The defense denied any wrongdoing on Valas' part, but according to doctors' testimony, the baby presented with severe signs cerebral edema, which could only have been caused by someone forcibly shaking him.
"The defendant is a good man, I can't say a bad word about him," said Porush, adding that he was "marked for great things" within the ultra-Orthodox community.
Porush told the court that he has been acquainted with Valas and his family for six years, and that Valas was one of the "finest yeshiva boys" he had ever encountered.
Another character witness for the defense was former MK and religious radio personality Israel Eichler. The latter testified he has been helping the family since the young patriarch's arrest, and warned that should he face prison time, it might "bring about the home's destruction and bring about a destruction of the Second Temple."
Other character witnesses included Menachem Porush, MK Porush's father who was a Knesset member for 35 years, and Rabbi Ben-Zion Gutfarb, who heads Valas' alma mater – the Matmidim Yeshiva.