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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Omri Sharon Gets Off Easy

For those who missed it, Omri Sharon, Prime Minister Sharon's son, was sentenced yesterday to nine months in jail for violating campaign finance laws. The sentence has been suspended for six months so that Sharon can tend to his father. While Sharon's attorneys are quite upset that he received any jail time at all, a Jerusalem Post online survey currently shows that 92% of respondents think Omri got off too easily. I agree.

Other sources close to Omri Sharon expressed their anger on Wednesday with Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Edna Bankenstein, following Sharon's sentence on Tuesday to nine months in jail.

Sharon's associates claimed that the judge was biased against him from the outset of the trial.

Sharon will appeal the nine-month jail sentence and NIS 300,000 fine handed down Tuesday by Judge Bankenstein, his lawyer, Navit Negev said.

"This is a severe and exceptional punishment that deviates extremely from the judicial precedents up until now," Negev told reporters. "We intend to appeal against the sentence to the Tel Aviv District Court."

In her strongly worded verdict, Bankenstein wrote: "In recent times, we repeatedly hear the words, 'the political swamp.' The court's role in draining the swamp is to appropriately punish those who commit crimes in the midst of a political procedure and contaminate it. And let those who commit crimes like the ones in this affair, attempt to commit them or help others commit them, be aware that the law will come down hard, not easy, on them."

According to Bankenstein, the extra degree of severity in the case was "the fact that Sharon concealed his goal and the way he did it. He didn't leave anything to chance, everything was carefully planned. He prepared a detailed plan of what he wanted to do and how to conceal his actions from those he worked with.

"In his actions, he endangered the outcome of the elections - that is, he endangered the democratic process from which the democratic system derives its strength and its very existence."

The judge wrote that Sharon was well aware of the Political Parties Law, which imposed limits on the amount of money that a primary candidate could spend on his campaign.


Bankenstein rejected the defense's argument that no one had ever been punished for violating the laws governing campaign contributions. If that was true, she wrote, then it was time to start enforcing them to deter others from doing the same thing.


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