The State has demanded at least 7 years incarceration for the former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson. Prosecutor: Hirschson has violated public trust, leaving a feeling that public figures are living high on the taxpayer’s expense. Elroi Hirschson: It breaks my heart to see my father at the defendant’s table; imprisonment will actually be a death penalty.
Two conflicts in the courtroom: the need to hand down a deterring punishment – and the desire to show a little mercy. The son of former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson, whom the court last week determined had misappropriated vast sums of money from the National Histadrut, said on Thursday morning at a plea hearing at the Tel Aviv Regional Courthouse that imprisonment of his father would in actuality be a death penalty.
The prosecutor, adv. Eli Schwartz, asked the court to deliver a long, deterring sentence, more severe than the ones handed down to his partners in the case. “They obtained their strength from him, he is first and foremost”, he stated. In this context – he repeated that the State had demanded a 7-year sentence for Ovadia Cohen, one of the accused in the case. In his opinion, Hirschson’s sentence should be more severe, should include a suspended sentence with strict fine, and his actions should be determined a disgrace.
Over the last several months, the Court has delivered verdicts of four years’ incarceration to Cohen, who was head of the Financial Dept. of the National Histadrut; 40 months of direct incarceration to Nili’s accountant, Amatsia Bonner. Fifteen months of incarceration were handed down to former Histadrut director, Yitzhak Ruso; the organization’s bookkeeper, Ronit Garti, was sentenced to public service. All four confessed and were convicted within the framework of a plea-bargaining.
The prosecutor also stated in his plea for sentencing that he does not downplay Hirschson’s good deeds over the years, or his activities for the benefit of Holocaust survivors – but at the same time, public representatives who use their positions as a means for personal financial gain should be severely punished.
Schwartz added that Hirschson has violated public trust, leaving a feeling that public representatives live high on the taxpayer’s expense, and added that Hirschson has lived his daily life while continually committing felonies over the years.
Son Elroi, who wept when the verdict was read, has asked for mercy for his father, who was only recently able to see his first grandchild;
“My father is the most important figure in my life. I have memories of my mother’s misery and suffering during the first years of my life. My father did everything for my mother; he took care of her for years and was both a father and mother to us. When people asked me what it was like to grow up without a mother, I would tell them that God had blessed me with such a warm and loving father that I don’t know where he gets his mental strength from. ”
“It breaks my heart to see my father at the defendant’s table. I am waiting for someone to wake me up from this nightmare,” added the son and stated that since the publication of the first article on his father’s deeds he hardly leaves the house: “The articles are being written one after the other and there seems to be a competition to see who can write a more condemning story. My father’s life has not been easy; he lost my mother to a fatal disease. I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through the suffering he has known.”
Hirschson has been charged with embezzling approximately 2 million shekels from the National Histadrut, and with taking bribes. The judge stated that the National Histadrut and Nili, under the former finance minister’s management had become a “casino” in which all senior representatives win money that is not theirs. Hirschson’s lawyer has already announced that he will appeal the conviction.
The former finance minister has also been charged with theft under management, fraud under aggravated circumstances, fraud and violation of corporation trust, laundering funds and falsification of corporation documents. Along with this, the Court has acquitted Hirschson on two accounts – financing the primaries and financing a conference at Ganei HaTa’aruha. The verdict will be served this Wednesday.
Translated by Lori Bul.