Former Chief Rabbi appeals jail sentence

Rabbi Yona Metzger requests court hearing before beginning to serve prison sentence two months from now.

Shlomo Pyotrovsky,

Metzger entering courthouse
Metzger entering courthouse
Flash 90

Former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who admitted to taking bribes in millions of shekels as well as tax offenses, submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court about the four-and-a-half year prison sentence imposed on him by the District Court.

Metzger asked the High Court to hold a hearing prior to his incarceration, set to begin in two months, Israel Radio reported.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Yoad Hacohen last week sentenced the former Chief Rabbi to four-and-a-half years in prison after Metzger admitted to bribery in a plea bargain.

The judge did not accept the plea bargain agreed to by the prosecution and Metzger regarding the punishment, in which it was agreed that Metzger would receive three-and-a-half years in prison.

As part of the plea bargain an amended indictment was filed against Metzger, which alleges that during his tenure as Chief Rabbi of Israel, Metzger committed many offenses including accepting bribes, fraud, and tax evasion while acting in his role and taking advantage of his high position. During the investigation of the case itself Metzger allegedly committed evidence-tampering and obstruction of justice.

While the offenses were committed and as a result of them, the rabbi received bribes totaling 5 million shekels, about 3 million of which went to him personally, after dividing the bribe money with his driver, who served as messenger for the monies. The rest of the money went to his driver. The amended indictment lists six charges against Metzger.

In his sentence the judge noted, "I believe that the punishment deserved by the defendant, within the framework I set out above, were it not for the plea bargain, would be seven years' imprisonment."

The judge added, "I can not confirm the arrangement reached between the parties, when it comes to determining the prison sentence. This is due to the serious and outrageous circumstances of the offenses and because of their unique nature. They reveal that the accused used public office and the exalted status, influence and connections of his post as a kind of 'business venture', widespread and methodical, stretching over years, aimed at receiving bribes in large sums from various parties."




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