Jerusalem (Jun. 9)
Michael Tzur, Israel’s most prominent white-collar criminal, will be released from jail in August, ten months before his term was due to end. The remission decision was taken by President Yitzhak Navon over the weekend, upon the recommendation of Justice Minister Moshe Nissim.
A year ago, Navon reduced Tzur’s original 15-year sentence to 11 years at the recommendation of then Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir. Since then appeals have been piling up on Nissim’s desk from Knesset members and other public figures for further leniency in Tzur’s case.
Tzur received his tough sentence after conviction in 1975 on charges of theft, fraud and bribery in connection with the Israel Corporation, the government-founded investment group which he headed. His crimes came to light following the collapse of Tibor Rosenbaum’s International Credit Bank in Geneva with which the Israel Corporation had close connections.
Tzur had been a leading light in Israel’s economic and financial community, having served previously as director general of the Commerce Ministry and later as chairman of Zim Lines, the national shipping company. He was considered a financial genius, and a protege of the late Pinhas Sapir, for many years Israel’s all powerful Minister of Finance.
In recommending this latest remission of sentence, Nissim wrote that he had thought long and hard about the case. On the one hand, Tzur was a “symbol” of a pernicious evil that had taken root in Israeli society and had to be extirpated. On the other hand, he had “drunk the bitter cup to the dregs” by falling from “a lofty position” to Ramle Jail. Moreover, he had displayed “sparks of contrition” by his conduct in prison where he became teacher, friend and adviser to many prisoners and planned and initiated worthy and profitable employment projects for the prisoners.
With a third of his sentence commuted for good behavior, Tzur would have been released in June 1982.