Three key moments in the Belarusian Ambassador Affair

From these three key moments emerges the perspective of Liberman and the court implying that the case is anything but sure for the prosecution, but that Liberman is highly concerned and that the court is seriously considering the state’s prosecution for convicting him.

By
July 26, 2013 01:10
3 minute read.
Former FM Liberman and former deputy FM Ayalon in court, May 2, 2013.

Liberman, Ayalon looking away from each other 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

There were three key moments to make note of as the Belarusian Ambassador Affair case against former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman came to a close on Thursday.

As Liberman’s lawyer, Jacob Weinroth, questioned the premise for the state’s entire case – that Liberman had a duty to report Ze’ev Ben- Aryeh for illegally leaking to Liberman classified investigative material against him – Liberman sprung into action, writing out a note at a furious pace to give to his lawyers.

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For anyone who has witnessed trial days in the cases against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, this is common practice. But this was unusual for Liberman, who has mainly sat stoically other than an occasional non-legal wisecrack.

Although the contents of the note may have been meant only for his lawyers, sitting nearby one could see that it read, “it needs to be emphasized that I was only an MK and only an MK in the opposition in 2008.”

To give a little bit more context, Weinroth’s specific point at the moment that Liberman wrote and passed the note was his claim that, under Israeli law, certain obligations to report another for an offense only apply to someone who has direct supervisory responsibility for the one committing the offense.

Liberman’s point then was to emphasize more strongly that not only was there never a time when Liberman was Ben-Aryeh’s day-to-day supervisor, but also, at the most important time, when the main disputed events in the case occurred, he was not even foreign minister, only an MK, and was in some ways almost powerless over government decisions, being an opposition MK.

In that sense, he believed he could gut the heart of the state’s case: that he had any obligation at all to report Ben-Aryeh.

The second moment appeared to favor Liberman.

The court first hinted to the state that it should throw out Danny Ayalon’s testimony against Liberman from its case, while the defense should drop its witnesses for Liberman from the Foreign Ministry.

This would mostly drop the issue from the case about whether Liberman actively tried to promote Ben-Aryeh and leave only the issue of whether Liberman committed a crime by failing to report Ben-Aryeh’s crime.

By the end of the hearing, the court compelled both sides to enter negotiations over trying to throw out the Ayalon and other Foreign Ministry officials part of the case, with a possible agreement or court decision coming soon on the issue.

Even if there is no agreement, it highly suggests that the court views the evidence in the Ayalon part of the case about whether Liberman actively tried to promote Ben-Aryeh as a wash which will not lead to a conviction.

The third key moment was during one of the court’s rare interruptions of Weinroth.

Weinroth was trying to argue that although on one page of his statement to police, Ben-Aryeh told them that he had described in detail for a few minutes the classified investigative material, that on a later page of his statements he corrected his earlier statement, stating that he did not tell Liberman anything and merely wrote the information on a piece of paper.

This point was critical, if Ben-Aryeh had explained the situation orally to Liberman, then the chances the court would view his non-reporting as a criminal cover-up are much greater than if Liberman merely got a note from Ben-Aryeh with no explanation and only skimmed the note before destroying it.

The court disputed Weinroth, stating that the two statements were separate parts of the narrative and did not impact each other. The first statement, said the court, was about what Ben- Aryeh told Liberman orally.

The second statement was further detail about the note, but did not eliminate the oral statements as Weinroth wished it to.

From these three key moments emerges the perspective of Liberman and the court implying that the case is anything but sure for the prosecution, but that Liberman is highly concerned and that the court is seriously considering the state’s prosecution for convicting him.


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