Three of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto’s defense attorneys – Eli Zohar, Roy Blecher and Moshe Mazor – have asked the court to allow them to resign from Pinto’s defense team.
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Although the defense attorneys have not stated the reason for their request, it is believed that Pinto broke the terms of the agreement that was signed with him, in that members of his family were interviewed in the media while continuing to claim that Pinto had not taken any bribe from Brig. Gen. Effi Bracha of the Israel Police. Among the family members interviewed in the media were Pinto’s brother and his wife, Devorah Pinto, who was documented handing 100,000 Swiss francs to Bracha’s wife, who has not been indicted.
The agreement that Pinto signed with the Justice Ministry following talks that his defense attorneys held with the attorney general included a ban on media interviews until the end of legal proceedings. The first hearing on the case has been set for October 22 before Judge Oded Mudrik, the vice president of Tel Aviv District Court.
About two months ago, attorney Eyal Rozovsky joined Pinto’s defense team, and he is continuing in that capacity.
In response to the lawyers’ statements, a spokesman for Pinto’s organization, Shuva Israel, said, “The Goldfarb Seligman law firm completed its work, and as determined at first, it will not be accompanying Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto in the court hearings. The rabbi and his family decided earlier that attorney Eyal Rozovsky, who is known to be trustworthy and professional, will represent him in the proceeding when it reaches the court. Attorney Rozovsky will be assisted by Professor Alan Dershowitz.”
Rabbi Pinto is charged with having bribed Bracha, who serves today as the commander of the police’s national fraud squad, with about 400,000 shekels, and with offering another bribe of a similar amount. He is also accused of disruption of proceedings. The indictment was handed down about three weeks ago as part of a plea bargain deal signed with Pinto.
As part of the agreement, Pinto will confess to the charges against him and serve as state’s witness against former police Gen. Menashe Arviv, the outgoing commander of the Lahav 433 elite intelligence unit. It was also agreed that the State Prosecutor’s Office would be permitted to use the material that he had handed over. The agreement also stipulates that the state will seek a year’s imprisonment for Pinto, a fine and seizure of the funds found in his possession, while the defense will be able to try to convince the court to give him a lighter sentence.