Rabbi Pinto Hospitalized Upon Arrival at Israel, Ahead of Hearing

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik over the weekend rejected the fourth request by Pinto to delay the reading of his indictment on medical grounds.

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File photo: Rabbi Yoshiyahu PintoCredit: AP

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who landed in Israel on Monday ahead of a scheduled court hearing, was hospitalized upon his arrival at Ben Gurion airport after complaining about pains in his chest.

Pinto, who had flown from New York, was transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where he underwent diagnostic cardiac catheterization. The procedure ruled out the possibility of a pre-existing heart disease.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Oded Mudrik over the weekend rejected the fourth request by Pinto to delay the reading of the indictment scheduled for Tuesday.

Pinto is being charged with attempted bribery of a senior police officer, Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, after reaching a plea bargain in which Pinto agreed to provide evidence that he bribed a more senior officer, Menashe Arviv, the former head of the elite Lahav 433 unit. Before the plea bargain was agreed, Pinto faced charges of bribery, interfering with an investigation and making threats, in a complicated case that began in 2011 with allegations of embezzlement at a now-defunct charity run by an associate of Pinto’s.

Shortly before noon, Pinto's spokesman softened an earlier announcement he made to the effect that Pinto suffered a cardiac arrest while aboard the flight, shortly before it landed in Israel. According to an updated announcement, "the Rabbi arrived at Ichilov Hospital this morning after suffering from pain and pressure in his chest during the last hours of his flight." The hospital noted that the diagnostic cathetherization did not reveal any cardiac obstructions. 

"No medical reason preventing the flight"

The court had previously agreed to Pinto’s request to defer a scheduled hearing for a month so that, among other things, the prosecution could obtain a medical opinion to counter the one submitted by Pinto – to the effect that he cannot travel from New York to Israel for medical reasons.

Pinto’s fourth request for a postponement was accompanied by a medical opinion stating that since he is expected to undergo an operation shortly, it would be best if he didn’t travel during the preceding few weeks.

The prosecution presented its own expert medical opinion, which determined that there “is no medical reason preventing the flight and arrival from New York on the scheduled date.” The prosecutor’s physician added that the defense expert gave no reason for the urgency of performing the surgery now.

Mudrik was critical of the defense’s medical opinion. “The accused does not have the status of a regular person who has a choice of deciding for himself the substance and location of his treatment and the identity of the attending doctors,” the judge said. “The question before me is not the patient’s ‘convenience,’ but the physical feasibility of flying the accused to Israel to stand trial, the amount of risk this entails and whether efficient care can be provided in Israel. The defense expert doesn’t address any of this.”

At the previous hearing last month, the prosecution had asked Mudrik to issue a writ of habeas corpus against Pinto and to impound his guarantees because of his nonappearance. It also threatened to cancel a plea bargain that had been signed with him.

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