Deri to Enter J'lem Mayoral Race

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Former chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Arieh Deri, has announced his intention to run in Jerusalem's mayoral race.

"I weighed it out and consulted with my rabbis and with [my] attorneys. I have made the decision to run," Deri told Army Radio.

Deri, who was convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in 1999, served 22 months of a three-year sentence in Maasiyahu Prison.

Because his crimes involved moral turpitude, he is barred from running for public office for seven years after his release, which would be mid-2009.

To be legally eligible to run in the Jerusalem mayoral campaign, Deri will have to secure a pardon from Israel's president, Shimon Peres.

MK (member of Knesset) Eli Yishai, who succeeded Deri as Shas chairman, said the party will support Deri if he enters the race.

In a separate incident, Deri was convicted in 2003 for breach of trust in a case directly involving the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court found Deri guilty of allocating 400,000 shekels (more than $100,000) from the Interior Ministry budget to an organization run by his brother, Rabbi Yehuda Deri.

The organization used the money to purchase a villa in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood for a yeshiva (religious seminary).

Deri served an additional three-month prison sentence and paid a 10,000-shekel ($2,800) fine.

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