'State, Liberman likely moving on to plea bargain'

Liberman is under investigation for fraud, breach of trust, deceit, money-laundering, witness harassment; Israeli media reports plea bargain in offing.

April 23, 2012 09:32
1 minute read.
FM Liberman in the rain near Jordan Valley

FM Liberman in the rain near Jordan Valley_390. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)


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Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the prosecution are likely to formally open plea bargain negotiations in the near future, Israeli media sources indicated on Monday.

Liberman is under investigation for charges of fraud, breach of trust, obtaining certain items or benefits through deceit, money-laundering and witness harassment. 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.

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Reportedly, in recent days the prosecution gave Liberman a set of questions which he must answer in the near future, after which the focus will move to plea bargain negotiations.

Media reports have periodically surfaced since March that the answers provided by the foreign minister and his counsel to questions by the state have muddled the state's case sufficiently that it is moving towards offering a plea bargain agreement.

The Movement for the Quality of the Rule of Law requested Sunday that attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein clarify if the state is considering offering Liberman a plea bargain.

The organization opposes offering such a deal to Liberman prematurely arguing that if there is sufficient evidence to indict Liberman, that the public good demands his indictment.

The reasoning is that with such a powerful public figure, it must be crystal clear to the public that justice is unbiased and that he will be held to at least the same standard as the average citizen in enforcing the law.

Moreover, the organization says that it is important that the facts of the case be litigated in the public eye as it is vital for high public officials to be able to perform their duties without the shadow of covered up criminal charges hanging over them. 

In April 2011, Weinstein announced that he planned to submit an indictment against the foreign minister in the near future. A year has passed since that announcement and six years have passed since the case opened and still no indictment has been forthcoming.

In responding to calls for clarification regarding the plea bargain agreement, the state may also need to explain how, like some other political cases in recent years, the case has drawn out for so long.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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