'Hard to try Liberman as he may return to politics'

“A case against a former foreign minister who could return to his position is a difficult issue,” says Lador.

May 28, 2013 01:36
2 minute read.
FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER Avigdor Liberman stands in court, April 30, 2013

Liberman in court 370. (photo credit: Emil Salman/Pool)

State attorney Moshe Lador on Monday said that managing “a case against a former foreign minister who could return to his position is a difficult issue.”

Lador gave the response to a question, during a panel at an Israel Bar Association Conference in Eilat, about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s reported commitment to hold the foreign minister position for Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman until the end of the Belarus Ambassador Affair case against him.

The state attorney was referring to the opinion that the Foreign Ministry witnesses in the case have felt constrained about testifying against Liberman out of concern that if he is acquitted, he will retaliate upon returning as foreign minister.

At the same conference, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday slammed critics of his decision in December to close the money-laundering case against Liberman.

“It seems to me, in all humility, that I can recognize an ‘acquittal case’ when I see one,” he said.

Noting that he spent most of his career as a leading defense lawyer, Weinstein pushed back hard against critics who said that he was too timid in only indicting Liberman for the Belarus Ambassador Affair.

In one recent war of words, Avia Aleph, who recently retired from her post as the head of the state’s economic crimes department, attacked the decision to close the main Liberman case in an interview with Haaretz, stating that “Weinstein avoided making decisions” and dragged his feet in ways that negatively impacted the cases.

She also implied that Weinstein might not have even filed the indictment in the Belarus Ambassador Affair had many senior prosecution officials not pushed “stubbornly.”

In explaining his position, Weinstein dived into a heated internal debate among state prosecutors: whether the state should aggressively file cases with “borderline” chances of conviction, or whether only cases with very high chances of conviction should be filed.

He said that the prosecution “cannot pass on its responsibility to the arena of the courthouse based on the assumption and the hope” that the court will “decide for it regarding borderline cases which raise concerns.”

“This approach of passing on responsibility” is “not acceptable to me. It conceals the heavy damage caused to defendants and to the law enforcement establishment itself,” he said.

Weinstein also said that the “prosecution would base its decisions solely on legal factors even if there will be criticism.

Even if the criticism will be heard from many places.”

Lador was also pressed on the issue of closing the money-laundering case against Liberman and he vehemently denied that the overall acquittal of former prime minister Ehud Olmert or any other political consideration had impacted the decision.

Weinstein also defended his decision to indict Liberman in the Belarus Ambassador Affair, stating that “weakness regarding corruption” could cause great damage and lead to great dangers to the public.

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