President rejects ex-tourism minister’s clemency request
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President rejects ex-tourism minister’s clemency request

Stas Misezhnikov’s conviction for fraud and breach of trust reflects ‘serious violations of integrity by a very senior public official,’ Rivlin says

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 21, 2017. (Flash90)
Former tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov arrives at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 21, 2017. (Flash90)

President Reuven Rivlin decided Monday to reject a former minister’s request for clemency, citing “serious violations of integrity.”

Stas Misezhnikov, who served as tourism minister as a member of the Yisrael Beytenu party from 2009 to 2013, began a 15-month prison term in December 2017 for breach of trust.

He was accused of securing his ministry’s funding for a student festival in 2012 in the southern port city of Eilat, and then asking organizers to employ his romantic partner in return. Organizers complied, paying her tens of thousands of shekels during that period. The ministry’s funding came to some NIS 1 million ($270,000).

His guilty plea and sentence formed part of a plea deal. He was also given a six-month suspended sentence and was fined NIS 70,000 (just under $20,000), as part of the agreement with prosecutors.

In January, he appealed for clemency, under special rules to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary, which give the president, together with the justice minister, the authority to grant pardons to prisoners meeting specific criteria.

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the annual memorial service for the victims of the Altalena Affair, in Tel Aviv, on May 30, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

In Misezhnikov’s case, the decision not to ease the sentence was taken because of what the president described in a statement as “serious violations of integrity by a very senior public official who, because of their nature, is unsuitable for inclusion in the special outline formulated by the president and the justice minister in honor of the State of Israel’s 70th year.”

In any event, if the parole board agrees, Misezhnikov will be released at the beginning of September after serving two thirds of his sentence, the president said.

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