Supreme Court to Debate Appeal of Jailed Former Minister Hirchson

Former finance minister convicted of embezzling NIS 1.7 million from union pension funds.

Former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson is scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court today, for a hearing on his appeal of his embezzlement conviction.

Hirchson is serving a sentence of five years and five months at the Hermon prison. He is asking the court to overturn the conviction for theft and significantly reduce his sentence.

hirchson - Yaron Kaminsky - November 1 2010
Yaron Kaminsky

The state prosecution argues that Hirchson’s actions were grave enough that the sentence should not be overturned, since the crimes were committed while he was an elected public servant.

His crimes were also more serious than those for which former minister Shlomo Benizri was convicted, it argues.

Benizri also appealed his conviction for taking bribes as well as the 18-month sentence meted out by a district court in 2008, but the Supreme Court upheld the prosecution’s demand for a stiffer sentence and increased his jail term to four years.

In June 2009, Hirchson was convicted of embezzling NIS 1.7 million from a union he headed and a subsidiary. Every month for more than five years, he received an envelope containing NIS 25,000.

Hirchson was sentenced to five years and five months imprisonment, a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 450,000.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court a year ago, Hirchson claimed that the Tel Aviv District Court’s conviction was “paved with major errors of fact and law,” and that the funds he had received from the union constituted “only an ethical failure,” because they were transferred they way they were only to bypass the regulations that block MKs from receiving additional remuneration beyond their salary. This is not a criminal act, he argued.

Hirchson also argued that the court did not take into account the fact that he had returned the money and that he was treated more harshly than other union leader involved in the affair.
The former finance and tourism minister also argued that the court did not take into account his extensive public service.

The prosecution argued that Hirchson systematically stolen money from the union, which is a crime.