Justice Minister Recommends Commuting ex-MK's Prison Term

Naomi Blumenthal was convicted of bribing Likud activists to gain primary votes, sentenced to 8 months.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann recommended Wednesday evening easing the jail sentence given to former Likud MK Naomi Blumenthal for bribery and obstruction of justice and commuting the jail sentence to community service.

In the case, known as the "Sheraton City Tower" affair, Blumenthal was convicted of bribing 15 Likud activists and central committee members. She hosted them and their spouses in the Ramat Gan hotel before the December 2002 party primaries, in the hopes of gaining their votes in the elections.

She was sentenced to 8 months in prison and ordered to pay a NIS 75,000 fine.

Friedmann submitted his recommendation to the office of Acting President Dalia Itzik Wednesday evening, but the final decision will be made by president-elect Shimon Peres who will take office on Sunday. The process required for a pardon to be brought before the president will not be completed before Peres takes office.

Knesset Director General Avi Balashnikov said Tuesday that "the recommendation will be transferred to the pardons department under the proper code to be handled further."

The President's Residence legal advisor will study the case and formulate an opinion in the next days, but the process is not expected to be completed before Sunday afternoon.

Blumenthal was supposed to begin serving her sentence on May 29, but she requested a two-month delay in order to attend the ceremony marking 30 days to her husband's death, and in order to complete errands surrounding his death. Blumenthal's request for a pardon, submitted several months ago, garnered extensive support among public figures, including her political rivals.