The government has now appealed the judge’s decision to Israel’s Supreme Court. If you find the government’s appeal difficult to understand, you will not be the only one.
What is the government asking on the appeal? No one seems to know.
Normally someone who appeals asks the upper court to decide in the appealing party’s favor. But that’s not the case. The government is not asking the Supreme Court to convict the defendant after the trial court acquitted him.
The government contends only that the judge could not decide whether the patina on the “Jehoash” tablet was genuine (proving that the inscription was authentic) unless a chemical analysis was made of what appeared on photographs to be genuine patina. (The photographs, incidentally, showing patina were made by the government’s expert, Yuval Goren.)
But whose responsibility was it to make this chemical analysis of the patina, if one was required? Certainly it was not the defendant’s. In short, if a chemical analysis was needed, it was the prosecution’s job to make it. How can the government now complain?
The courtroom scuttlebutt is that the government is mounting this strange appeal simply to delay the judge’s decision on whether the allegedly forged items should be returned to their owner—not only the “Jehoash” inscription, but also the famous James Ossuary inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The government has objected to the return of these items to Golan. A decision on this matter is pending with Judge Farkash.
The government’s appeal is not the only one following Judge Farkash’s decision. The judge sentenced Golan to 30 days in jail for illegally selling antiquities. (Golan was not convicted on any count of forgery.) The 30-day sentence is, in fact, not a jail sentence because the judge ruled that Golan’s previous incarceration at the beginning of the case counts toward the sentence, and he was already incarcerated for more than 30 days.
The guess among Israeli court watchers is that one of the Supreme Court judges assigned to the appeal will call the parties’ lawyers into chambers and strongly urge them both to drop their appeals. Surely Golan will agree—if the government agrees. Will it? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, the bigger question is whether the government will get to keep the “Jehoash” inscription and the James Ossuary or will it have to give them back to Oded Golan?
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