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Omri Sharon: Nine Months in Prison

With Ariel Sharon lying comatose in a Jerusalem hospital, his son Omri was sentenced Tuesday to nine months in prison for crimes he committed on behalf of his father's election campaign.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/15/2006, 7:16 AM / Last Update: 2/14/2006, 3:45 PM

The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentenced Omri Sharon, who resigned his Kadima party Knesset seat several weeks ago, to nine months for lying under oath, filing false affidavits, and violating campaign laws. The crimes were perpetrated during the Likud primaries election campaign in 1999, when Ariel Sharon was elected to head the party in place of Binyamin Netanyahu, who had just resigned.

Following the worsening of his father's medical condition three days ago, the prosecution said it would delay the sentencing, if Sharon Jr. wanted. He turned down the offer.

The judge said today, however, that the implementation of the sentence would be pushed off for a half-year, in light of Ariel Sharon's condition. In any event, Omri plans to appeal.

Sharon Jr. was convicted three months ago, by his own plea-bargain agreement admission, of laundering campaign donations of six million shekels - well over the permitted amount.

The court apparently was not impressed by Sharon's speech during pre-sentencing hearings several weeks ago. Omri said at the time that because of his "pure faith and certainty that my father's political path and leadership were right and appropriate for the future of the State of Israel, I took upon myself to try to have him win the primaries and then the general election."

"I have great love for my father," Sharon said at the time, "and my desire to support him and his way were very strong. Along the way I made some grave mistakes, and I apologize for it. I admitted my guilt clearly, I took responsibility for my actions, and I was convicted according to my own admission."

The Court, however, was more impressed by the fact that Sharon Jr. took great pains to hide his actions, both during their perpetration and afterwards. He stands accused of lying outright to the State Comptroller during the latter's investigation of the incident.

Sharon's lawyer said that in light of her client's voluntary retirement from politics, and the fact that the law in question is "too harsh for the public to abide by," she would appeal the sentence to the Tel Aviv District Court.

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union), who has long attacked the corruption of the Sharon family, said, "Omri Sharon will be behind bars for just a few months, but the State of Israel is liable to be imprisoned for years behind the bars of Kadima, which was established and formed by Omri Sharon and his corrupt cronies."

MK Michael Eitan (Likud), the Chairman of the Knesset Law Committee, said that in light of the need to fight against corruption, the harsh sentence is justified. "This is a means of deterring corrupt public figures," Eitan said.