Mordechai to appeal 18-month suspended jail sentence

Although the judges described Mordechai's crimes as involving moral turpitude, he will not automatically lose his Knesset seat because he was not sentenced to jail. In Mordechai's case, the Knesset House Committee has the right to determine whether Mordechai can resume his seat.

Judges Ya'acov Tsaban, Rivka Friedman-Feldman, and Rafi Carmel were divided in their verdict.

In the majority decision, Tsaban and Carmel opted for an 18-month suspended sentence. Friedman-Feldman called for sending Mordechai to jail for four months.

Tsaban and Carmel took into account Mordechai's military career and the punishment he had already suffered during the trial and by his conviction. Mordechai was a former Center Party leader, cabinet minister, and IDF general

"Standing before us is a defendant whose conviction dealt him a severe blow," they wrote.

"The fall from the high mountain to the deep pit is extremely hard and painful, for the mountain was truly high and the pit is truly deep. At the moment of destruction of an illustrious career and the breaking of body and soul, the court does not have to crush the wounded man by handing down a stiff punishment."

Tsaban and Carmel also wrote: "On the day of reckoning, society does not have to discard yesterday's hero who has, unfortunately, become today's criminal."

Prosecutor Eli Abarbanel said that the court was right into taking into account all the factors — including Mordechai's suffering and his military service — in deciding on his sentence. But he added that although there were mitigating circumstances, the gravity of the crimes should have persuaded the court to give him a short jail sentence.

Abarbanel said the state has not yet decided whether to appeal the sentence.