State: Omri Sharon Deserves Time, Not Community Service

The prosecution in the trial of Omri Sharon yesterday requested that he be given an actual prison sentence, not to be served as community service; a high fine; and a suspended sentence. The state also asked that Sharon's actions be deemed offenses of moral turpitude.

For the second defendant in the case, Gavriel Manor, the state asked for a suspended prison sentence and fine.

In his opening arguments before the Tel Aviv District Court, prosecutor Erez Nurieli said that the scheduling of sentencing arguments places a burden on both the prosecution and defense because of the medical condition of the defendant's father, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. However, he stressed, the judge's rulings bear special importance in establishing public norms at the start of an election campaign.

Omri Sharon was convicted after pleading guilty to three crimes: falsifying corporate documents, perjury and corporate executive offenses. He was also convicted of four counts of violating the party funding law: accepting an illicit contribution, accepting funds that exceeded the permissible amount, exceeding the allowable spending level, and faulty handling of receipts.

Manor was convicted of making an illicit contribution, assisting in exceeding spending levels and corporate executive offenses.

The crimes and violations stem from Sharon's management of his father's Likud leadership campaign between July 1999 and February 2000.

Nurieli argued that Sharon's actions undermined public faith in the political system and democratic process by issuing campaign receipts for seven times the legal amount.

The severity of Sharon's actions, Nurieli added, lies in the fact that Sharon concealed them from the Likud's oversight body and from the public while using a shell company.

"He added one crime on top of another when he led his father to sign a false affidavit," the prosecutor said. He added that Sharon's argument that the law is problematic is infuriating and dangerous since it shows Sharon has not internalized the severity of his actions.

Regarding the issue of moral turpitude, prosecutor Nava Horowitz argued that the court is not exempt from deliberating on this matter even though Sharon has announced plans to resign from the Knesset and not run in the upcoming elections. In her effort to persuade Judge Edna Beckenstein that Sharon's actions merit the stigma of moral turpitude, Horowitz noted the following circumstances: Sharon's repeated violations, his concealment, the intent to deceive that accompanied his actions and the tremendous extent of the violations.

Yesterday's court hearing opened with testimony from Haaretz writer Ari Shavit, who was summoned by Sharon as a character witness. Shavit said he met Sharon in 2001 and a mutual appreciation grew into a strong friendship in 2003, after Sharon became a Knesset member. Shavit described Sharon as a hard worker who adheres to a deep friendship code and has a type of modesty he termed "a lost Israeliness."

Shavit emphasized Sharon's "total loyalty" to his father, which ultimately led to a willingness to make certain sacrifices.