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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Sharon's son charged over fraud
Omri Sharon
Omri Sharon faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and perjury
Charges have been brought against the son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over the funding of one of his father's election campaigns in 1999.

Accused of creating shell companies to conceal illegal donations, Omri Sharon has reportedly admitted overspending but questioned party funding limits.

The charges relate to Ariel Sharon's successful campaign to lead the Likud Party and to be its candidate for PM.

The authorities earlier decided not to indict the prime minister himself.

If found guilty, Omri Sharon faces up to five years in prison over charges of violating campaign finance laws, fraud, breach of trust and perjury.

Ariel Sharon had always denied knowledge of the financing of his campaign, saying it was run exclusively by his son.

Waiving immunity

Now a member of parliament, Omri Sharon says he will waive his immunity from prosecution and stand trial, reports Haaretz newspaper.

On Monday, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, passed a law authorising the prosecution of its members (MKs) without having to request parliamentary immunity to be stripped.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had been unable to push forward with the case because MKs were immune from prosecution, the AFP news agency reports.

In his first public response to the allegations against him, quoted in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Omri Sharon admitted he had overspent in his father's primary campaign and was ready to receive his punishment.

However, he added, the limitations on campaign contributions and spending according to the Political Parties Law, which was passed in 1992, were unrealistic and impossible to honour, the paper says.

"Experts say reasonable spending to run a campaign like the 1999 primaries is 10 times higher than the sum fixed by the law," wrote Omri Sharon. "The law was therefore a decree the public could not fulfil."

He added that since the law was so unreasonable, he was certain it had never been enforced before.

"I am the first person to be put on trial for breaking this law," he said.

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