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Former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz chose the words "mistaken" and "deplorable" at an Israel Bar Association meeting in Eilat yesterday in which he criticized the court's handling of political corruption charges against Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi last year.

Reacting to the decision of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to drop fraud and breach of trust charges against Hanegbi in the interest of justice, Mazuz said: "I think the court ruling is mistaken, even deplorable." Prosecutors failed to appeal the case in December of last year due to a prosecutors' strike.

Hanegbi was acquitted of election-related charges of bribery but convicted of perjury. He had been accused of making improper political appointments and improperly influencing members of the Likud Central Committee. He belonged to the party while he was environment minister.

"Hanegbi was not acquitted of fraud and breach of trust," the former attorney general said. "The court ruled that he had committed all of the acts but thought he should be acquitted in the interest of justice because that was the first time political appointments had constituted a criminal offense. I think it's a mistaken ruling, even a deplorable one, but unfortunately it did not face the scrutiny of an appeal."