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'If Ariel Sharon Were Healthy, He Would be Indicted Too'

Police say Ariel Sharon's sons, Gilad and ex-MK Omri, should be indicted. Analyst: If their father was healthy, he would be on the list as well.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/17/2010, 11:17 PM / Last Update: 6/17/2010, 11:10 PM

Flash 90

The police have recommended that Ariel Sharon's sons, Gilad and ex-MK Omri, be indicted. One analyst says that if their father was healthy, he too would have been on the list.

Omri Sharon, a one-term Knesset Member who was instrumental in having the Knesset pass the various Disengagement laws, has already been in jail, serving most of a nine-month term for perjury and campaign funding violations.

The current charges have to do with Austrian tycoon and Sharon-family friend Martin Schlaff, whose indictment has also been recommended - though he is not expected to visit Israel anytime soon. Schlaff is suspected of giving the Sharons a $3 million bribe, including to Ariel Sharon himself.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador are to decide in the coming months whether to adopt the police recommendations.

Journalist Aryeh Avneri, chairman of the anti-corruption Ometz Movement, expressed his satisfaction to Arutz-7 that "the corruption of the Sharon family is finally coming to light."

The story originally broke in 2002, when it was learned that Sharon the father received a $1.5 million loan from South African businessman Cyril Kern – which was later found to have actually come from Schlaff. The additional $3 million was also from Schlaff, the police believe.

Casino at Center of Probe
Schlaff's interests in Israel were focused on the now-defunct casino in Jericho and a plan to open offshore casinos on boats docked in Eilat. The Jericho casino, built in 1998, brought in  million of dollars in profits – mostly from the Israelis who made up 99% of the clientele – but was closed due to lack of customers when the Oslo War broke out in October 2000.

"We know that after the Jericho casino was closed," Avneri said, "Omri Sharon tried to convince various bodies to give approvals for a casino boat... There were many problems with the investigation because the Austrian government did not cooperate, but in the end we now see that the police have recommended an indictment."

"If Ariel Sharon were healthy now" – he has been in a coma for over four years – "he also would have been indicted," Avneri opined. "In the previous case, that of the Greek island, then-Attorney General Meni Mazuz messed up [by deciding not to indict Sharon], but this time I believe that Weinstein and Lador will charge them." Mazuz is said to have felt that the current charges are fairly serious, and therefore did not close the file, hoping to make a decision at a later date – which he did not manage to do before his term in office ended several months ago.

Avneri said that it is scandalous that Sharon the father still receives a car and driver from the government: "Why does a bedridden patient require a driver? This is a hot potato issue that no one is touching."