Prosecutors Demand 'Harsh' Prison Term for Convicted Ex-finance Minister

Avraham Hirchson was convicted of embezzling millions of shekels from a labor union fund.

Prosecutors urged Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday to hand down a lengthy prison sentence against Avraham Hirchson, the former finance minister who was convicted of embezzling millions of shekels from a national labor union fund.

"The scales of justice lean toward an extensive, deterrent punishment, more severe than any other that has been handed down in this case," prosecutors said on Thursday. The maximum punishment to be served by one of Hirchson's co-conspirators is four years and eight months.

Hirchson's son, El-Roi, pleaded for clemency for his father. He told the court that a lengthy jail term would be tantamount to the death penalty.

"On behalf of myself and my brother, I would ask the court for a measure of mercy," Hirchson's son said. "When I see my father in the dock, my heart is torn into pieces. I don't understand how a man's good deeds are forgotten in one moment."

"Today, when Dad is waiting to be sentenced, I find this is the right opportunity to remind the court that we have been serving an especially heavy punishment for the last three years," he said. "Since the start of the case, one can count the number of times my father left the house on one hand."

"I think that Dad always waited for these years so that he can lean back and rest," El-Roi Hirchson said. "I don't know how he will survive a long prison sentence without his sons."

The prosecutors responded by blaming Hirchson for bringing the troubles on himself. "It is difficult to hear family members ask for mercy, it is a heart-wrenching situation," the prosecutor said. "Those who are not in this courtroom are the blue-collar workers who were harmed by the defendant's actions. They are the ones who at the end of the day paid the price for his deeds."