'Decision on Liberman indictment likely in 1 month'

In response to petition calling for decision on FM charge before elections, state says case complicated, decision coming.

By YONAH BOB, JPOST.COM STAFF
November 8, 2012 12:52
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman 370. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)

 
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In response to a petition calling for a decision on the Liberman charge before elections, the state says the case is complicated, and decision will be made before the elections.

The State Attorney’s Office and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein said on Thursday that they will likely make a decision on whether or not to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in about a month’s time, and before the elections on January 22.

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The potential allegations raised against Liberman have varied from bribery to money laundering to witness harassment and to lesser offenses.

The case goes back years, long before Weinstein was attorney-general.

Thursday’s announcement came as part of the state’s response to a petition filed to the High Court of Justice by the Movement for Quality Government.

The petition called on the court to order the state to explain its reasons for delaying the decision on the indictment, and to order that a timetable be set by which the state would come to a decision before January 22.

The court had previously ordered that the state provide a preliminary explanation of its position on the issue, before the court would make any decisions.

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The State Attorney’s Office explained in its preliminary response to the petition, that the case against Liberman is exceedingly complicated and has required years of investigation for several reasons.

Dozens of witnesses, most of them do not reside in Israel and so either refuse to testify, or are difficult to access, have been interviewed.

The state is still only guessing which of the witnesses could actually be brought to testify at trial. It received thousands of pages of documents from other countries it is cooperating with.

The State Attorney’s Office added that it had no intention of rushing the decision on Liberman as standard regulations state that no decisions should be rushed, or slowed during, election period.

Independent of the petition, which the state viewed as unjustly filed, it did inform the court that, as part of its own process, it expected a decision on Liberman’s case within about a month.

While the state cannot likely be forced to stick to this latest of deadlines, it is the first time that it has committed to a deadline on the record.

According to an earlier draft indictment, Liberman is suspected of receiving millions of dollars from private business people through straw companies between the years 2001 and 2008, while he was a member of Knesset and a cabinet minister.

The foreign minister has already undergone an unusual three pre-indictment hearing with the state attorney, and many times Weinstein has said he would decide about whether to submit an indictment against him.

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