The state prosecutor announced late Sunday night that it would re-question
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman in the Belarus Ambassador
A statement issued by the state said that the indictment for
fraud and breach of public trust against Liberman was “on hold” pending the
questioning, making no time commitment in a change from earlier answers that
have spoken of filing the indictment in “the coming days.”
Beytenu Party leader was investigated for years for money-laundering millions of
dollars as well as other offenses.
Those charges were dropped on December
13, only to have the state announce the same day that it would indict Liberman
in the Belarus Ambassador Affair.
From the original announced indictment,
the affair involved accusations that the former Israeli ambassador to Belarus
Ze’ev Ben- Aryeh had illegally showed Liberman classified investigative material
against him in the money-laundering case.
Further, the indictment had
asserted that Liberman hid this fact from a Foreign Ministry appointments panel,
helping Ben-Aryeh get additional ministry positions.
Liberman has denied
all charges, but in dramatic fashion resigned as foreign minister and vice
premier only a day after the indictment was announced.
But days after the initial
indictment was announced, Channel 10 ran an exposé that the state had failed to
question the ministry panel members whether Liberman had not only hidden
information from them, but had even actively pressured them into appointing
Ben-Aryeh to the new positions.
The new developments make it less likely
that Liberman will be able to immediately jump back into a top ministerial role
either during or after elections, if for no other reason that the indictment
itself will have been delayed by a minimum of a couple of weeks.
first time Sunday night, the prosecutor confirmed that the anonymous accusations
that Liberman had actively tampered with the process had led to a decision to
question the panel members, re-question Liberman and delay filing the
The re-questioning of Liberman signals that new questioning
of the panel members has led the state to cast doubt on Liberman’s story that he
did not actively push for Ben-Aryeh’s promotions, and could lead the state to
adding more serious offenses to the indictment.
The state’s statement
said that the indictment was serious enough to file as originally drafted, but
that ultimately it was decided that the new information should be followed up on
It added that having questioned the panel members, the state
wished to give Liberman a new chance “to respond to the new information that has
been gathered” before it makes a final decision about whether to add more
serious charges to the indictment.