Shlomo Benizri on Thursday
Photo: Avi Moalem

Benizri released from prison, professes innocence

Former Shas minister blasts justice system upon being paroled; 'I was framed. I'm innocent,' he states

After over two years behind bars, former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri was released from prison on Thursday. Before leaving for his Jerusalem home, the former minister thanked his supporters and blasted the justice system for "weaving a plot" against him.


"I thank the politicians from Shas, who did not renounce me and treated me with humanity. I thank the prison crew," he said upon his release. "I don't thank the justice system, from the most junior official who dealt with my case, to the most senior officials, who treated me with vengeance.


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"This system set me up," claimed. "I am completely innocent."


Benizri slammed Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who was on the panel that sentenced him to four years in prison for bribery, breach of trust, conspiracy and disruption of legal proceedings committed during his tenure as labor and welfare minister.

בניזרי יוצא מהכלא (צילום: אבי מועלם) 

Benizri upon his release (Photo: Avi Moalem)


"How could his hand not tremble when he tripled my sentence from a year and a half to four years… How could he torture me? Where is the Jewish heart and mercy?" he pondered.


"A media cannibalism exists in this country. Have you seen what they've done to the honorable former president?" he added, referring to the media frenzy surrounding Moshe Katsav's legal woes.


The former minister lamented the lack of support from fellow lawmakers and leaders.


"I didn't get to be Marwan Barghouti, who won support from left-wing Knesset members after killing Jews," he said. "I'm no businessman who was freed from Georgian prison after the president rushed to intervene. 

"ש"ס שמחה ומברכת על השחרור" (צילום: אבי מועלם) 

'I'm innocent.' Benizri (Photo: Avi Moalem)


"Why didn't you free me?" Benizri said, addressing President Shimon Peres. "Why didn't you intervene? They listened to a questionable state witness over a minister who contributed so much the country."


Shas released a statement welcoming the release of Benizri, "who dedicated and sacrificed his whole life for the public, and contributed greatly to Israeli society."


Last month, the Prison Service's Parole Board decided to reduce one third of Benizri's sentence for good behavior. He has served two and a half years at Maasiyahu Prison.


The former minister was released along with some 600 other criminal and security inmates whose sentences were commuted on Wednesday after the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee decided to cut prison capacity.




פרסום ראשון: 03.01.12, 11:41
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