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Senior oncologist Dr. Arie Figer, sentenced last month for bribery, breach of trust and exploitation, has been additionally convicted of moral turpitude by the Tel Aviv District Court. The ruling may result in Figer's medical license being withdrawn.

Figer, formerly deputy chief of oncology at Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital, was convicted in December of demanding payment from cancer patients for preferential treatment. He was sentenced to six months' community service and fined NIS 75,000 and was ordered to pay NIS 20,000 in compensation to the patients. Judge Rachel Greenberg she would rule on the question of moral turpitude at a later date.

In her verdict, Greenberg wrote that Figer was convicted of acts "characterized by greedy, sinister, cynical, financial exploitation of cancer patients and their families." She added that "the senior position the accused held at the hospital gave him power and authority he abused...." She concluded that all the offenses carry moral turpitude.

Greenberg rejected the defense arguments she should abstain from convicting Figer of moral turpitude because she had been criticized in the media for her earlier lenient sentencing. The prosecution said it would appeal Figer's original sentence and asked the court to delay the beginning of his community service. The court agreed to this.

Figer has been on leave of absence from the hospital since the legal process against him began, but sources in health care said the relatively lenient sentencing may well enable him to return to work. He was convicted of taking thousands of shekels from patients at Ichilov and Beilnson hospitals in exchange for preferential treatment.

The Health Ministry has yet to convene a disciplinary committee to discuss the future of Figer's medical license.