Israel's High Court Rejects Petition Against Dery Plea Bargain

The high court rejected a petition against the attorney general's decision not to include moral turpitude in Dery's deal since he already promised to resign from the Knesset

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
Shas MK Arye Dery at the Knesset in June
Shas MK Arye Dery at the Knesset in JuneCredit: Dani Shem Tov
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

The High Court of Justice has rejected a petition against a plea bargain reached with Shas MK Arye Dery.

The petition challenged Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s decision not to seek a court ruling that Dery’s crimes involved moral turpitude, which could have barred him from politics for years.

But Justices Isaac Amit, Noam Sohlberg and Alex Stein said on Sunday that the entire issue was moot, because Dery is no longer in the cabinet and has promised to resign from the Knesset. Consequently, they rejected the petition.

The petition was filed last week by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. It argued that the decision to exclude a finding of moral turpitude from the deal was extremely unreasonable, since this will be the second time Dery has been convicted of corruption charges while holding public office. The organization also requested an urgent hearing on the petition, since Mendelblit’s term ends at the end of the month.

Under the plea bargain, Dery was charged with failing to report the full amount he earned by selling a Jerusalem apartment to his brother, Shlomo Dery. He thereby concealed 1.55 million shekels ($500,000) in income from the Israel Tax Authority. He was also charged with failing to report his income from the American financial company Green Ocean, on which he should have paid 530,000 shekels in tax. Dery agreed to admit to these facts.

The deal also stipulates that he will receive a suspended sentence and pay a fine of 180,000 shekels. But because Dery agreed to resign from the Knesset even before the plea bargain was submitted to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Mendelblit agreed not to ask the court to issue an immediate finding of moral turpitude.

Nevertheless, the deal doesn’t preclude the courts from issuing such a finding in the future should Dery ever seek to return to public office.

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