Prosecutors Want State to Appeal Hanegbi Verdict

The state prosecutor and Jerusalem district attorney believe the State Prosecutor's Office should appeal last month's conviction of former minister Tzachi Hanegbi on perjury charges.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has yet to state his own position on a potential appeal, and is expected to do so only after sentencing, expected in October. He is expected to side with State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel over whether to lodge an appeal.

The State Prosecutor's Office believes two aspects of the ruling are legally problematic.

The first issue is the decision by Yoel Tsur, head of the three-judge panel in the case, that Hanegbi had committed no judicial wrongdoing when he appointed of several Likud party activists to positions in the Environment Ministry while he served as minister between 2001 and 2003.

Second is Judge Aryeh Romanoff's opinion that the fraud and breach of trust charges against Hanegbi should be dropped to serve the interest of justice.

Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said yesterday, "This issue is being discussed by decision makers. Any report about opinions aired during hearings is the responsibility of the news outlet."


In a precedent-setting indictment, Hanegbi was accused in 2006 of appointing some 50 Likud political activists and their families to posts in the Environmental Protection Ministry during his tenure as minister.

In addition to fraud and breach of trust, the State Prosecutor's Office asked the court to convict Hanegbi of improperly influencing voters.

The indictment filed against Hanegbi was largely based on an item in a Likud internal publication on the eve of party primaries. That piece outlined Hanegbi's achievements in finding political posts for party activists, and called on voters to elect him so that he could continue doing so on the broadest possible scale.

State Prosecutor's Office officials rejected critics' claims that prosecutors had failed in their task.

A Justice Ministry official privy to the case recently told Haaretz that Romanoff's decision to drop charges of fraud and breach of trust against Hanegbi was legally problematic and inappropriate.