Earlier today, the Jerusalem District Court rejected former Sefardi Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron’s attempt to throw out the fraud case against him on the grounds that the gathering of evidence against him violated general principles of justice.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday rejected former Sephardi chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron’s attempt to throw out the case against him on the grounds that the evidence collected against him violated general principles of justice.
The proceedings against Bakshi-Doron for allegedly ordaining IDF and police officers under fraudulent circumstances while he held the chief rabbi post started in late January.
The three main arguments that the rabbi’s lawyers made to end the case against him without the need to go to a full trial had to do with how the evidence had been collected and the absence of similar indictments against other clergy members who may have acted similarly to Bakshi-Doron.
The two main sources of evidence against him were his in-court testimony in an unrelated trial where he was just an outside witness, and statements he made to police afterwards.
The defense argued that in the unrelated trial and his later police statements, Bakshi- Doron incriminated himself without having been given proper warning by the prosecution, the courts or the police that any incriminating information could be used against him, even though he himself was not on trial at the time.
Bakshi-Doron’s lawyers said that failure to advise him of his right to avoid self-incrimination made the statements unusable as evidence and justified throwing out the entire case against him.…
The court rejected Bakshi-Doron’s defense for the following reasons:
1. Bakshi-Doron suprised police when he suddenly incriminated himself. Because police and prosecutors could not have reasonably expected Bakshi-Doron to do that, their failure to advise him of his right to avoid self-incrimination is not a factor.
2. The prosecution only wanted to gather evidence to use against others.
3. The government tries to achieve equality in prosecution of crimes, but it does not have to be exact in doing so.
Bakshi-Doron was originally not a central part of this fraud scheme which ordained police officers and army officers as rabbis even though they lacked the requisite qualifications to hold the title.
In Israel, holding an advanced degree – or having rabbinic ordination through the state's rabbinate (which is normally difficult to achieve) – automatically raises your pay grade and can mean thousands of dollars per year in extra income for degree holders.
Bakshi-Doron, who served as Sefardi chief rabbi from 1998 to 2003, was drawn into the scheme by others in senior positions in the Chief Rabbinate. Some of them are not being prosecuted.