Israel to drop Sharon corruption charges
Published Monday, August 27, 2012
The Israeli State Attorney's Office intends to close the corruption case against former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, due to a lack of sufficient evidence, Haaretz reported on Monday.
The case against Sharon and his two sons Omri and Gilad, known as the Cyril Kern Affair, is based on allegations that Sharon received millions of dollars in bribes from Kern, a South African businessman, and from the Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff, through his sons.
A review by the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office concluded that the case should be closed due to a lack of evidence.
The decision to close the case was also based on the fact that Sharon is unfit to undergo a trial as he has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in early 2006.
At the start of the case in late 2001, Sharon announced that he planned to return $1.5 million to American donors as the the state comptroller determined that such large donations to finance his Likud primary campaign were illegal.
In early 2002 Kern, a friend of the Sharon family, deposited $1.5 million into a bank account of a member of the Sharon family, as a loan.
An immediate investigation was launched by South African authorities at the request of Israeli Police, which found that Kern was simply an intermediary for Schlaff who had economic interests in Israel during that period.
It is believed that Sharon repaid Kern's loan, but the police suspected that the money was given to a company owned by the Schlaff family.
In November and December 2002 two additional deposits, totaling around $3 million, were made to Sharon family accounts.
Since the affair broke, Schlaff has stayed away from Israel, even missing his father's funeral in Jerusalem.
Other affairs involving the Sharon family were also examined during the investigation, such as allegations of huge profits made by Gilad Sharon on property deals in Canada along with Israeli businessman Arie Genger.
Gilad Sharon has invoked his right to remain silent throughout the investigation.
The Justice Ministry said in a response Sunday that no decision on the Kern case has been made at this time.
Ariel Sharon is widely known in the Arab world as the 'Butcher of Beirut' after he led Israel's brutal invasion of Lebanon in 1982 as defense minister, resulting in the deaths of up to 30,000 Lebanese civilians.
(Al-Akhbar, UPI, Haaretz)