Sharon's Son Heads to Jail as Court Nixes Corruption Appeal

Omri Sharon was convicted of a series of fraud charges related to his father's 1999 primary campaign.

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The High Court of Justice on Monday cleared the way for the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon to go to jail next month to begin serving a seven-month sentence on corruption charges.

Former Likud MK Omri Sharon, 43, was convicted of a series of charges related to his father's 1999 primaries campaign, including fictitious registration of corporate documents, lying under oath and violations of the election code.

The former MK oversaw some fundraising activities and the campaign that resulted in his father's victory in the that year's Likud Party primary.

Prosecutors claimed he received more than $1.3 million from groups in Israel and overseas for his father's campaign, amounts that far exceeded the legal ceiling for contributions.

The former Knesset member, who was also fined NIS 300,000, will begin his custodial sentence on February 27.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Omri Sharon pleaded guilty to falsifying corporate documents, perjury and violating party funding laws.

In exchange, the state dropped charges of fraud and breach of trust but demanded imprisonment on the other counts the maximum term was five years in prison.

Sharon was originally sentenced to nine months in prison, however the district court shortened his prison time to seven months.

The sentence was handed down just several weeks after Ariel Sharon fell into a coma following a debilitating stroke.

Sharon's lawyers pleaded with the court to consider the circumstances at the time of the offenses - his mother was dying from cancer, and he was a newcomer to politics who was unfamiliar with campaign finance laws.

On Monday, the High Court rejected his final appeal and upheld the sentence of seven months in prison, the court's spokeswoman, Ayelet Filo, said.

The justices said in their ruling that they did not find any reason to alter the previous rulings on the matter.

Legal expert Moshe Negbi said that while he sympathized with Sharon's personal plight, the ruling marked an important legal precedent.

"It is the first time the legal system sends a clear message that crimes committed during a political campaign are severe, and a man needs to pay for them with his freedom," he told Israel Radio.

Also on Monday, Public Relations mogul Rani Rahav urged President Shimon Peres to pardon Sharon from his prison sentence.



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