Tarif Too Ill for Court, but Not for Politics

The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday again postponed the reading of the ruling in the appeal filed by MK Saleh Tarif (Labor) following his conviction for bribery, fraud and breach of faith.

The reading was postponed after Tarif's lawyer, Tal Hoter-Yishai, informed the judges that his client was in a Nahariya hospital following a traffic accident on Friday in Acre.

Last week, the reading of the verdict was postponed at Tarif's request because of the Muslim holiday Id al-Adha.

Hoter-Yishai did not have a medical confirmation attesting to his client's hospitalization, but promised to provide it to the court by the end of the day.

On Saturday, Tarif reportedly campaigned among potential voters in the Druze town of Daliat al-Carmel, far from the Nahariya hospital. People who encountered him there said he was bursting with energy. An inquiry by Haaretz found that Tarif arrived at the hospital in Nahariya at noon Friday, complaining of pains from a traffic accident. Tarif asked to be discharged immediately following his initial examination, and only returned on Saturday. As of yesterday, he was still hospitalized.

The question now is whether he will be back on his feet in time for the Labor Party primaries Tuesday.

Tarif's lawyer said his client suffered a concussion in the traffic accident. "He asked to be discharged because of prior commitments. They released him after warning that if he starts to throw up on Saturday he must return to the hospital. On Saturday evening he felt unwell, consulted his personal physician, who recommended that he go back to the hospital. He returned to the hospital at 10 P.M.," Hoter-Yishai said.

In the appeal case, Tarif is seeking full acquittal; the prosecution wants him convicted of acts of moral turpitude. The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court convicted Tarif of giving $2,000 to Raphael Cohen, formerly head of the population administration at the Interior Ministry, to help his friend Hosni Badran, a moneychanger who was applying for permission to be in Israel. Tarif met with Cohen in December 1999 under the Ben-Gurion Airport bridge and gave him the money in cash.

In the lower court case, the prosecution did not ask that Tarif's offenses be ruled acts of moral turpitude because he was not serving as an MK at the time.