Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and State Prosecutor Eran Shendar welcomed yesterday's Supreme Court conviction of former director-general of the Prime Minister's Office under Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Sheves, who was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust. Prosecutors called the decision an important victory in the fight against corruption.
"Today's Supreme Court ruling sends a strong message to public sector employees to act with integrity, and it calls for preserving the public's faith in the governing system and in state employees," the Justice Ministry said.
The decision, made by an expanded panel of nine justices, was supported by an 8-1 majority. Sheves originally had been cleared of the charges in January 2003.
"The court recognized breach of trust as a central and important rule in the war against corruption and in the establishment of norms for behavior of public officials," State Prosecutor Yehoshua Lamber said.
Sheves was originally found guilty by Tel Aviv District Court in 2000 of using his position to advance an international security deal that would have proved very lucrative for some business friends. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, a one-year suspended sentence, and a NIS 50,000 fine.
He was acquitted of using his position to advance the interests of two contractors, Gil and Doron Schuldenfrei, in exchange for financial benefits.
Sheves then appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, while the prosecution appealed his acquittal on the other count. But the court accepted Sheves' appeal and rejected the state's.
The justices criticized Sheves' behavior, but said it constituted only an infraction of civil service regulations rather than a criminal offense. Therefore, the court said, he should have faced disciplinary proceedings at most.
The prosecution then asked the court to hold another hearing of the case, arguing that the original ruling essentially had wiped the crime of breach of trust off the books.