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Abu-hatzeira Trial Begins

February 4, 1981
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— Religious Affairs Minister Aharon Abu-Hatzeira and three co-defendants pleaded not guilty today to charges of giving and receiving bribes. Their trial opened before a three-judge panel in a Jerusalem district court to hear their pleas. It was adjourned until Feb. 15 when the hearings will begin.

The 42 year-old minister and his senior aide, Moshe Gabbai, are accused of accepting bribes and diverting Ministry funds to certain religious institutions. The two other defendants, Rabbi Amram Korach and Shmuel Daskal, both of B’nei Brak, are charged with giving bribes to Abu-Hatzeira through Gabbai. According to the police the amount involved was 65,000 Shekels.

The State Prosecutor’s Office, represented by Jerusalem District Attorney Michael Kirsch, plans to call 27 prosecution witnesses. After registering their pleas, Abu-Hatzeira and Gabbai left the court by a side door but were unable to avoid local and foreign reporters. The Minister refused to comment but Gabbai said he felt “fine” though he admitted “it isn’t pleasant.”

Daskal, a leader of B’nei Brak’s Vishnitz Hasidic community, was not present in court. His attorney said he was abroad but would return in time for the hearings.

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