Stiff sentence sought for MK Blumenthal
Blumenthal convicted two weeks ago of election bribery, obstruction of justice and misleading an investigation.
Prosecutors in the case of MK Naomi Blumenthal (Likud) are asking that she receive a custodial sentence in addition to a suspended sentence and a stiff fine.
Blumenthal was convicted two weeks ago of election bribery, obstruction of justice and misleading an investigation.
Yesterday the two sides presented their arguments concerning the sentencing. Prosecutor Ruth Erez asked that Blumenthal and codefendant Michael Elnekaveh both be sentenced to prison, but added that they should not be given the same sentence. Blumenthal's attorney argued that she should be given a suspended sentence and that the conviction alone was a significant punishment for his client. The sentence will be announced on March 14.
A large number of character witnesses arrived at Tel Aviv's Magistrate's Court to testify on Blumenthal's behalf yesterday.
"Blumenthal proves that even an honest person can succeed in politics," said former MK Sarah Doron, a colleague of Blumenthal's in the now-defunct Liberal Party. Doron, whose comments brought tears to Blumenthal's eyes, questioned the severity of the conviction: "I sat here and heard things about her - it's a different Naomi Blumenthal, one that doesn't exist."
MK Roman Bronfman (Democratic Choice) said that despite their differing political positions, "if I had to create a small club of friends in the Knesset, there's no doubt that Naomi would be inside."
MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union) described Blumenthal as "a pleasant and cheerful person, who has done good for many people. Her purse was always open."
Former minister Gideon Patt, as well as a young Ethiopian man whom Blumenthal has helped, also spoke on her behalf. The defense also submitted letters from public figures asking for leniency in her sentencing. Signatories included MKs Avraham Poraz, Danny Yatom and Marina Solodkin, Natan Sharansky, former Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky and Rabbi David Grossman of Migdal Ha'emek.
Erez argued that the crimes of which Blumenthal was convicted were seriously damaging to the election process, and she asked the court to hand down a stiff sentence.
"The defendant did not behave in a manner becoming a senior public figure," Erez noted, "and there is no reason for that status to aid her today."
Erez submitted to the court a record of several harsh sentences that had been given for similar offenses. Among others, she mentioned the unprecedented prison sentence that Omri Sharon was given two weeks ago.
Blumenthal's attorney, Uri Wagman, argued that his client, who was convicted of giving bribes worth NIS 12,000, should not be given the same sentence as Sharon, who was convicted of raising more than NIS 6 million illegally.
"What you have decided here," Wagman told the judges, "does not reflect my client's way of life. If she erred, it was a one-time mistake."
As usual in such hearings, the defendant had the last word. Blumenthal told the court how she was forced to work at age 14 to help support her family. "When I was elected to the Knesset, I ... thought how wonderful it was that even a little girl from a village could be a Knesset member in Israel."