TEL AVIV (Apr. 17)
Mrs. Leah Rabin was fined IL 250,000 ($27,200) by a Tel Aviv District Court today for the bank account she and her husband, Premier Yitzhak Rabin, had kept in Washington D.C. in violation of Israel’s currency laws. She was given the option of paying the fine or serving one year in jail.
Judge Dov Levin, who heard Mrs. Rabin plead guilty to the charges, rejected a plea for leniency from defense attorney Moshe Alexandroni. However, he took into consideration the fact that Rabin was forced to resign as leader of the Labor Party. He said for that reason he was not imposing the maximum penalty allowed by the law which is a prison term of up to three years and a fine three times the amount of the illegal currency holdings. The Rabin account in a Washington bank amounted to $21,101.12, including interest.
But the judge did not spare Mrs. Rabin a tongue-lashing. He told her she had “used the account in deplorable ways” and he could not give credence to her claim that she was unaware that she was doing anything wrong or illegal. The prosecutor, Mrs. Victoria Ostrovsky-Cohen, said that as the wife of the Premier, Mrs. Rabin should have served as an example to others in her conduct. Her crime was serious and the damage done to the public was great, the prosecutor declared. She asked for a heavy fine but not a prison term.
Premier Rabin escorted his wife to the courthouse this morning but did not attend the trial. Large police reinforcements were on hand to help court personnel hold back the crowds of newsmen and onlookers trying to enter the tiny 24-seat courtroom. Rabin himself was fined IL 1500 by the Treasury last week which determined that his role in the currency violation had been “passive” although the illegal bank account was held jointly by him and his wife. His resignation as party leader and the fact that according to the law he must serve out his term as Premier were the circumstances that excused him from standing trial.