State to re-question Liberman on earlier charges

Prosecutor announces indictment for fraud, breach of public trust against the Liberman is on hold pending the new questioning.

By
December 23, 2012 21:46
2 minute read.
Avigdor Liberman

Avigdor Liberman 521 ok. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The state prosecutor announced late Sunday night that it would re-question Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman in the Belarus Ambassador Affair.

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.”

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The Yisrael 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.

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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.

For the 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 indictment.

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 anyway.

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.

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