[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
MPs discuss Sharon bribery case
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon was foreign minister at the time
Israeli MPs are debating a decision by the attorney general not to charge Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over his alleged role in a bribery scandal.

Justice Minister Tommy Lapid is attending the law committee meeting, but Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has cancelled his appearance.

The Supreme Court is to hear petitions next Tuesday against Mr Mazuz's ruling.

He said there was insufficient evidence to back claims that Mr Sharon received large sums from a property developer.

The long-running allegations stem from the so-called Greek Island affair.

'Cover-up?'

Speaking before the parliamentary debate, Likud lawmaker Gilad Erdan strongly attacked Mr Lapid and Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel.

PRIME MINISTERIAL SCANDALS
Yitzhak Rabin: Resigned in 1977 because his wife infringed foreign currency regulations by holding a US bank account
Benjamin Netanyahu: Lost 1999 election while facing allegations of keeping gifts that should have gone to the state and misusing state funds - charges eventually dropped
Ehud Barak: Was questioned over fund-raising irregularities in 1999 election campaign - denied wrongdoing, saying he had no role in fund-raising
"We are facing a justice minister who, to my regret, is covering up a very, very serious affair," Mr Erdan told Israel Radio.

MPs are said to have been angered by Mr Mazuz's decision to cancel his appearance.

But the justice minister told army radio that the attorney general's decision was justified - he did not want to be seen as influencing the Supreme Court debate on the issue.

"The legal issue is before the Supreme Court. Anything that would have happened [at the meeting] could be seen as an attempt to influence the court, for both Mazuz and for the state prosecutor [Edna Arbel]," Mr Lapin said.

The petition with the court was filed on Sunday by two MPs - Eitan Cabel from the opposition Labour Party and Yossi Sarid, from Meretz-Yahad. They called on the court to overturn or reconsider Mr Mazuz's decision to close the file.

An investigation into the allegations was launched after Chief Prosecutor Edna Arbel recommended charges at the end of March.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz makes the announcement
Mazuz's decision is to be considered by the Supreme Court
Mr Sharon was alleged to have accepted bribes from Israeli businessman David Appel to use his influence when foreign minister in the 1990s over a property deal in Greece.

Mr Appel was alleged to have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mr Sharon's son Gilad, whom he employed as a consultant in the scheme to develop the island of Patroklos. Gilad had no previous experience in the tourism industry.

Last week, the attorney general said that a "scrupulous point-by-point examination of the case" had failed to find "the slightest case of corruption... in the Greek Island affair".

Mr Mazuz also said that no charges would be pressed against the prime minister's son.




SEE ALSO:
Israel drops Sharon bribery case
15 Jun 04  |  Middle East
Sharon case splits Israeli press
16 Jun 04  |  Middle East
Q&A: Sharon corruption inquiries
15 Jun 04  |  Middle East
Profile: Ariel Sharon
21 Jan 04  |  Middle East


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific