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Abu Hatzeira Acquitted of Bribery Charges, Indicted on Other Charges

Religions Minister Aharon Abu Hatzeira, acquitted yesterday in a Jerusalem court of charges of bribery and indicted simultaneously in a Tel Aviv court on other charges, conducted hectic negotiations today with the National Religious Party on whether to join its list for the June 30 elections to the Knesset.

Shortly after the acquittal in the Jerusalem court, the Voice of Israel had reported that Abu Hatzeira planned to quit the NRP and run on an independent ticket.

Acquitted with him on the bribery charges were three other defendants, adviser Moshe Gabai, diamond merchant Shmuel Daskel and Rabbi Amram Korach. The Religions Minister and Gabai had been charged specifically with approving increased funds to religious institutions, in return for which they allegedly received kickbacks.

At the same time as the acquittal was announced in that case, a new indictment, submitted to the Tel Aviv district court, charged Abu Hatzeira — as mayor of Ramle from 1975 to 1977 — with deceit, violation of trust and conspiracy. Specifically Abu Hatzeira was accused of receiving money improperly from the Interior Ministry, allocated for the Ramle municipality, and of stealing government funds as mayor.

The Jerusalem court ruled unanimously in rejecting two counts — those charging bribes and grants involving the religious institutions in B’nai Brak and the Vishnitz Hasidic community. On another charge involving the Spinka Hasidic Yeshiva, two of the judges found reasonable doubt and one favored complete acquittal.

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