Prosecution presents closing arguments in Liberman case

State: Former FM admitted to all core facts in indictment.

By
July 9, 2013 12:08
3 minute read.
Avigdor Liberman at court in corruption trial, April 25, 2013

Avigdor Liberman at court, April 25, 2013 370. (photo credit: Uri Lanz/ Yisrael Hayom/ Pool)

 
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The prosecution on Tuesday presented its closing arguments in the trial against former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, stating that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court should convict him even if it found Danny Ayalon’s testimony against Liberman unconvincing and even if it found Liberman did not know his acts were illegal.

It added that part of the justification for this was that Liberman had admitted to all of the core facts in the indictment.

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Conviction with a finding of moral turpitude will likely end Liberman’s career, at least for seven years, possibly destroy his Yisrael Beytenu party, and possibly set off a fight for the foreign minister and other ministerial positions, altering the entire political landscape.

Acquittal will likely return him to the foreign minister’s chair, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly is holding for Liberman should he be acquitted.

The state noted that Liberman had admitted to receiving illegal classified information in an investigation against him from then-Belarusian ambassador Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh.

Next, he admitted that he had given Ben-Aryeh a position in his bureau, met with Ben-Aryeh to discuss a potential promotion to be ambassador to Latvia (though he characterized this as Ben-Aryeh merely updating him that he might be leaving his bureau) and at several points, did not report to police or foreign ministry officials about Ben-Aryeh’s illegal acts, which would have gotten him disqualified from consideration for the promotion.

Since Liberman admitted to all of these facts, whether he also actively helped Ben-Aryeh get the promotion – as former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon has testified – is only “icing on the cake,” but not a necessary point to prove for conviction, said the state. Furthermore, the state asked the court to adopt Ben-Aryeh’s initial statements to police, in which he said that Liberman did not merely look at information that Ben-Aryeh gave him, but also discussed the information’s main details.



In contrast, the state asked the court to reject Ben-Aryeh’s in-court testimony, in which he supported Liberman’s version of events: that Liberman only glanced at the top of a note Ben-Aryeh wrote him, but then got rid of the note and refused to discuss it with Ben-Aryeh.

Which version of events the court adopts could establish whether the court views Liberman’s actions as just a small failure to report Ben-Aryeh’s misstep, versus Liberman actively engaging with Ben-Aryeh in learning about the investigation against him.

The state also said that at their core, the allegations against Liberman point to his alleged violation of his oath as a minister “to faithfully commit to preserving” the State of Israel and its laws. Next, the state said that the recent Jerusalem District Court ruling, which convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert of breach of public trust for failing to report certain actions he took where he had a conflict of interest, should apply to Liberman’s failure to report Ben-Aryeh – when Liberman had what the state called a “gross” conflict of interest.

Pressed by the court to explain how the state would deal with a recent Supreme Court decision on interpreting breach of public trust, which could be favorable for the former foreign minister, the state mostly avoided the issue, seemingly hoping that its other arguments would carry the day.

Regarding the contradictory stories given by Ayalon and Liberman about whether Liberman actively pushed for Ben-Aryeh’s promotion, the state said that Liberman’s story had evolved unbelievably to claiming that not only did he not meet privately with Ayalon about the Ben- Aryeh appointment, but he had never met privately with Ayalon about any appointments.

The three-hour presentation, delivered mostly by PowerPoint, concluded the state’s case – leaving only the defense’s closing argument, scheduled for July 25, before the case is complete and the court will render a fateful decision.

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