District Court Rejects MK Tarif's Appeal Against Bribery Conviction

The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday rejected an appeal by MK Saleh Tarif (Labor) against his conviction on charges of giving bribes, fraud and breach of faith. "I'm sorry that a person who was a minister in Israel failed and carried out these ugly crimes," Judge Dvora Berliner wrote in the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel.

The panel, which also included judges Zeev Hammer and Judith Shitzer, also ruled that the crimes involved moral turpitude, which means that Tarif will not be able to continue serving as an MK.

In response to the verdict, Tarif, who was represented in his appeal by attorney Dror Hoter-Yishai, said he had no faith in the justice system.

The district court did not change the lower court's sentence of six months' public service, since the appeal involved only the conviction.

Tarif was convicted of paying a $2,000 bribe to Raphael Cohen, the head of the Interior Ministry's Population Administration, in 1999, when Tarif was serving as an MK and as chairman of the Knesset House Committee. Tarif wanted Cohen to expedite the granting of a residence permit for a friend, Hosni Yunis Badran, a resident of the Palestinian territories, and for Badran's family.

Badran, who is married to an Israeli citizen, had previously applied for a residence permit under family reunification procedures several times over the years and had been turned down.

Tarif delivered the money in cash to Cohen under a bridge on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

The police recorded Cohen's confession to accepting the bribe, and although Cohen recanted on the witness stand, both the magistrate's court and the district court accepted the police version and gave full weight to the written and recorded confession.

With regard to the charges of fraud and breach of faith, the prosecution argued that Tarif was aware that Badran's marriage was fictitious and that he had applied previously for a permit and been turned down.

When Tarif attempted to advance the procedure, Judge Berliner wrote, "he acted against the public interest that he is meant to uphold. This certainly cannot be considered a case of proper conduct by a public official, which is a basis for the public's faith in him. A Knesset member and the chairman of the House Committee should not fraudulently expedite his personal interests and those of his friends."