Former Minister Benizri to be Released from Prison Thursday

Former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri goes home on Thursday, a month earlier than scheduled, due to reduction in prisoner quota.

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Elad Benari,

Shlomo Benizri
Shlomo Benizri
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri, who was sentenced to four years in jail for accepting bribes, breach of trust and other offenses, will be released from prison on Thursday.

Benziri told reporters upon his release that he would continue to serve his country, but not in politics. "They sent an innocent man to jail," he said in disgust.

In January, the Israel Prisons Service's Releases Committee decided to shorten Benizri’s jail sentence by one third, due to his good behavior. He was to be released in April, instead of July 2013. However, on Wednesday the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee approved a reduction in the quota for prisoners in Israeli jails, moving up Benizri’s release by one month.

In addition to Benizri, 600 other prisoners whose release date was coming up will be released on Thursday.

A court found that when he was Minister of Labor, Benizri gave his friend, Moshe Sela, who owns a manpower company for foreign workers, inside information about worker quotas.

In return, Benizri received from Sela a sum of NIS 40,000; payment of NIS 28,000 to a lawyer who represented Benizri in a libel suit; a dining table and chairs worth NIS 7,000; installation of an NIS 23,000 air conditioning system in Benizri's home, and cleaning services in Benizri's home.

In addition, in 2000 and 2001 Sela gave Benizri monthly payments, and in late 2001 gave him a sum of $200,000.

A year ago, Benizri applied to President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman for a pardon. His lawyer, Avi Himi, told Arutz Sheva in January that Peres did not respond to the request and expressed his disappointment in that fact.