Uri Lupoliansky's Celebration
This week Uri Lupolianski had his sentence dramatically reduced in a Supreme Court appeal, from six years in prison, to just six month of community service.
Lupolianski expressed joy and relief at this judgement - saying he will continue his good works at Yad Sarah; he headed to the kotel to celebrate & thank God.
Lupolianski emerged from the court session looking ebullient and told the gathered media that he “would continue to work for the good of the country.” (JPost)
According to Arutz 7:
MKs Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and Uri Maklev (UTJ) have expressed their pleasure with the reduced sentence, saying, "We are happy and congratulate him with wishes of good health. He should continue with the good deeds that he has been doing for decades, and should continue helping the Jewish People."
The reason for the huge reduction in sentence by the Supreme Court was that Lupolianski's health is apparently deteriorating due to cancer and the Court decided this would put the defendant at undue health risk in prison.
In contrast to Ehud Olmert's Holyland case, the conviction itself was not over-ruled by the Supreme Court.
The main grounds for the sentencing appeal was that the bribery payments did not involve direct person benefit, as the 2 million NIS in bribery payments were made to Yad Sarah, the charity which Lupoliansky established, and not to Lupolianski personally.
However, the court held this did still constitute bribery, as Lupolianski enjoyed prestige for bringing in these very large "donations".
Rather, the Supreme Court's decision parallels the original sentencing by the lower court in the case of Lupolianski's fellow defendant Avraham Steiner, described at the time here:
Former city council member Avraham Feiner, who was convicted of accepting a 680,000 shekel bribe, will serve six months of community service work of six hours a day because of his severe medical condition.
Rozen said that if not for Feiner’s serious medical condition, he would have been sentenced to at least five years in prison. In addition, Rozen said that because the lenient sentence was agreed upon as part of a plea deal between Feiner and the prosecution, the sentence in no way serves as a precedent.
There is no doubt that Lupolianski enjoys public respect, due to his achievements with Yad Sarah - a household name in Israel and familiar to many people who have chronic illnesses and require medical equipment.
While I appreciate that the remarkable sentence-slashing was a major and positive delight & surprise for Lupolianski personally, I suggest that a bigger kiddush Hashem could have been made if Lupolianski had, in his statements:
1. Admitted to and apologised for his serious crimes
2. Thanked the Supreme Court for their compassion
3. That's it.
As for Gafni and Maklev - their response that Lupolianski "should continue with the good deeds that he has been doing for decades", apparently without any reference to Lupolianski's criminal convictions being upheld, looks like a statement of derision for this court.