Israel: Aryeh Deri claims 'racism' over corruption trial

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Head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri, leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on August 2, 2021.
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90Head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri, leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on August 2, 2021.

'I am in my guardpost as head of Shas and will fight from the party office and the Knesset,' says Deri

Israel's Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri claimed at a Knesset press conference Wednesday that he was targeted regarding his tax offense convictions due to racism. 

Deri received a suspended prison sentence of 12 months and was fined roughly $60,000 for his crimes, including fraud and breach of trust, perjury, tax evasion, and money laundering. 

The sentence does not prevent him from running in the next elections, and Deri stated he intends to run again. 

It is not the former minister's first criminal indictment for corruption, with Deri serving 22 months in prison in 2000 for offences committed while in office.

"I am not going anywhere," he said, according to The Jerusalem Post

"I am in my guardpost as head of Shas and will fight from the party office and the Knesset. My friends and I are committed to toppling this wicked government. Shas knows how to fight in the opposition."

In his 50-minute speech, Deri spoke of the difficulties he was subjected to because of the criminal investigation, claiming his name was dragged through the mud. 

"All manners of crimes were thrown into the air, including lies about my wife and my family," he said. 

He claimed he was prosecuted due to his Moroccan origins, Ynet reported. 

Deri is not the only politician to receive a plea deal due to corruption charges in recent weeks, with former minister and United Torah Judaism Party member Yaakov Litzman admitting to breach of trust in the case of Malka Leifer. 

Litzman announced last month that he would not run for parliament again, saying his decision was unrelated to accusations against him. 

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