Former Israeli minister Gonen Segev, who left the country in 2007 after serving several years in prison for attempting to smuggle drugs, has requested that the Health Ministry reinstate his medical license in order to return to Israel, Army Radio reported Tuesday morning.
Segev had his medical license revoked following his conviction and has lived abroad for the past nine years. Now he is requesting that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman pardon him so he can begin working again as a doctor in Israel.
“Gonen Segev is asking to return to the country since he feels like he is serving an endless punishment,” Segev’s attorney Yoram Pomerantz told Army Radio. “He did what he did, nobody can argue otherwise, but many years have passed since.”
Pomerantz said Segev has been working as a doctor in Nigeria. “He even received an official appreciation letter from the head of security at the Foreign Ministry, for saving the life of an Israeli member of the diplomatic delegation,” he said.
The attorney further argued that there were ministers who committed offenses and returned later to the government. He cited the example of current Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who was previously jailed for bribery and yet returned to the very same ministerial position he held when he committed his crime.
Segev was born in Israel in 1956, and reached the rank of captain in the IDF. He then studied medicine at Ben Gurion University in the Negev and became a medical doctor.
He was elected to the Knesset in 1992, at the age of just 35, as part of Rafi Eitan’s now defunct Tzomet party.
He famously split from that party in 1994 and joined the short-lived Yiud faction along with two other Tzomet MKs. His vote was critical in passing the Oslo Accords in the Israeli parliament.
In 1995-1996, Segev headed the National Infrastructure Ministry (now known as the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy, and Water Resources), before quitting politics.
Segev then became a businessman, and was arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy (MDMA) tablets from the Netherlands into Israel. He also illegally extended his diplomatic license and committed several offenses involving use of credit cards.
The former minister was convicted in 2005 of drug smuggling, forgery and fraud. He received a five-year prison sentence as well as a $27,500 fine. He was released from prison in 2007 after a third of his sentence was cut due to satisfactory behavior in jail.
However, Segev could not go back to working as a doctor since his medical license was stripped from him shortly before his release. Segev appealed this decision to the Jerusalem District Court, but it was rejected.
Immediately following his release, Segev left the country and has since been working as a doctor and a businessman in Nigeria.