Prosecutors Strike Puts the Kibosh on Appeals Against Hanegbi Acquittal

Striking prosecutors will not be allowed to appeal the acquittal of former minister Tzachi Hanegbi on a number of charges.

Striking prosecutors will not be allowed to appeal the acquittal of former minister Tzachi Hanegbi on a number of charges. Hanegbi avoided fraud and breach of trust convictions recently but was still forced to resign from the Knesset after being convicted of perjury, which the court ruled involved moral turpitude.

The deadline for an appeal is Thursday.

"Unfortunately, the national committee of the state prosecutors association has directed the exceptions committee to stick to the strict criteria set on December 1, 2010," the exceptions committee said in a statement yesterday.

The criteria do not allow any prosecutor to file a state appeal, the committee said.

"After we seriously considered the request, we decided not to approve the appeal filing," it added.

The strike began in mid-November and organizers say it will continue until their demands - higher pay and better work conditions, particularly for high-level prosecutors - are met.

The Jerusalem District prosecutor asked the exceptions committee yesterday to allow Hanegbi to appeal, saying "extremely problematic factual and legal decisions" were made in the case.

"On the 23rd of the month, the time for filing an appeal will be up, and the way things look right now, we're liable to find ourselves in a situation in which the strike prevents us from filing an appeal," the Jerusalem District prosecutor, Eliahu Abarbanel, told Israel Radio last week.

"In every case in which there is about to be serious, irreversible damage, we ask the prosecutors association to authorize an exception in the specific case," he said. "In some cases, we get a positive response and in others we don't."

The strike committee has decided that prosecutors will appear only in cases involving the most serious allegations, including murder, attempted murder, arms production and trading, drug trafficking and sexual offenses.

Attorneys are not allowed to prosecute suspects in slightly less serious crimes, even in cases of aggravated assault, kidnapping, robbery, drug possession, weapons possession, arson or sex trafficking.

In Hanegbi's case, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court decided November 9, by a 2-1 majority, to find him guilty of moral turpitude after his perjury conviction. He had been acquitted of fraud and breach of trust for allegedly making illegal political appointments, the main offense on which he was being tried.

As a result, Hanegbi was forced to quit the Knesset and his position as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.