Shlomo Benizri - Tomer Appelbaum - 02032012
Former minister Shlomo Benizri leaving Maasiyahu prison on Thursday, flanked by his lawyers and a son. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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It is former minister Shlomo Benizri's right to believe that his pain was greater than Gilad Shalit's. Whether his remarks upon his release from prison last week express deep frustration or seek to be inflammatory, there's no point in discussing comparisons that emerge from a person's soul. People have the right to express their feelings, no matter how provocative.

But it seems Benizri's j'accuse had a more disturbing aspect: his complete denial of his offenses - bribery, breach of trust, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. "I was framed," he said immediately upon his release. "I stress, I was framed." He even went into detail, addressing "the lowest-ranking person who dealt with my case to the highest, people who treated me with insensitivity and injustice, who acted out of revenge and values sacred to them, not to me." According to Benizri: "I am completely innocent."

These remarks contradict what he said about two months ago to the parole board, which was considering shortening his sentence by one-third for good behavior. According to that meeting's minutes, the attorney general's representative said: "From prison reports regarding the prisoner, we learn that he admits to wrongdoing, notes that it was done inadvertently and expresses remorse."

The parole board's function is to scrutinize the convict's conduct in prison, his attitude toward his offense, the chances of his rehabilitation and return to society, and the threat his release would pose. It turns out that Benizri's attitude toward his offense changes according to his interests. When he wants his sentence cut by one-third, he admits to the offense and expresses remorse. But after his release, when he no longer fears the justice system, he retracts his statement and accuses that system of taking vengeance on him and framing him.

And so the Benizri festival shines a dubious light on one of the most important conditions for shortening a prisoner's term: that the prisoner realizes the criminal nature of his act. As it turns out, a good show is enough to persuade the parole board that standing there is a repentant person who deserves their consideration, while in fact the person is an impostor.

Read this article in Hebrew