The Jerusalem District Court rejected on Thursday a plea bargain reached with former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and handed down a harsher sentence of 4.5 years in prison for bribery.
Metzger was convicted in January under a plea deal. Metzger and the State Prosecution agreed on a sentence of 3.5 years in prison, the confiscation of an apartment he owns in Jerusalem, a fine and back taxes. Under the deal, Metzger pleaded guilty to accepting 5 million shekels ($1.3 million) in bribes, down from 10 million in the original indictment, while other charges – including fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering – will be dropped.
On Thursday, the court criticized the plea deal, saying it was too lenient.
Metzger’s associates said at the time that he agreed to a plea bargain because he understood that his trial would likely end in conviction. The police enlisted a state’s witness in the case whose name cannot be published.[...]