Israel Prison Service Reduces Former Shas Minister's Sentence

Shlomo Benizri, who helped former President Moshe Katsav get accustomed to prison life, will be released this April after his sentence was reduced by a third.

The Israel Prisons Service parole board decided Monday to reduce the sentence of former minister Shlomo Benizri, a member of the Shas party who was recently sentenced to four years in prison for bribery and other offenses.

The parole board decided to cut Benizri's sentence down by a year and four months, so the former minister is due to be released in April.

Benizri - Appelbaum - 2009
Tomer Appelbaum

The board made the decision after seeing his behavior and lifestyle during his imprisonment, ruling that he is not a problematic inmate. Moreover, since former President Moshe Katsav entered prison after being convicted of rape, Benizri mediated between him and the Israel Prisons Service.

Benizri was jailed in 2009 for four years for bribery, fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Two years ago Jerusalem District Court sentenced the former health and social welfare minister to 18 months in prison for a number of 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 the former lawmaker's sentence to four years.

Benizri was found to have accepted expensive favors from a contractor in exchange for inside information on foreign workers scheduled to arrive in Israel.

In 2010, Benizri submitted a pardon request to President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

When Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison, Benizri was approached and asked to aid the former president to get accustomed to prison life. When Katsav refused to don his orange prison uniform and thus stripped of privileges such as going to the prison canteen, the prison allowed Benizri to go buy products for Katsav.

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