The Israel Prison Service parole board decided on Monday to reduce the sentence of former Minister Shlomo Benizri, a member of the Shas party who was sentenced to four years for bribery and other offenses. The board based its decision on Benizri's conduct in prison.
The parole board cut Benizri's sentence by a year and four months, meaning he is now due to be released in April.
The board ruled that Benizri is not a problematic inmate after seeing his behavior and lifestyle during his imprisonment. Moreover, since former President Moshe Katsav entered prison after being convicted of rape and other offenses, Benizri has mediated between him and the Israel Prison Service. Benizri was asked to help the former president get accustomed to prison life. When Katsav refused to don his orange prison uniform and was therefore stripped of privileges such as going to the prison canteen, the prison allowed Benizri to buy products on Katsav's behalf.
Two years ago, Jerusalem District Court sentenced the former health and social welfare minister to 18 months in prison for violations including accepting bribes, breach of trust and obstructing justice - offenses the court found amounted to moral turpitude. Both Benizri and the state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which extended his sentence to four years.
Benizri was found to have accepted expensive favors from a contractor in exchange for inside information on foreign workers due to arrive in Israel.
In 2010, Benizri submitted a pardon request to President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.
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