Liberman arrives at court for verdict 370.
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
The tiny Jerusalem Magistrate’s Courtroom, where every media outlet in the
country was crammed into a few rows of benches, erupted with cheers and gasps on
Wednesday within seconds of the court starting to read its verdict in the
Avigdor Liberman case.
Unlike in the Ehud Olmert corruption trial verdict
– when the court’s decision to acquit on the main charges was unclear for
several minutes, leading several reporters initially to report the verdict
wrongly as their attention spans gave way – the openly nervous judges on
Wednesday revealed Liberman’s acquittal at the outset.
Liberman and his
entourage rose jubilantly and exchanged hugs and congratulations.
later, when Michal Sabel, lead counsel for the prosecution, made a clearly
unprepared statement to the press, her lip quivered and she struggled to regain
composure (which she eventually succeeded in doing) while saying that the
prosecution thought it had a strong case, but the court disagreed.
an emotional end to an emotional trial.
Sabel’s quivering lip and the
Justice Ministry’s virtually deafening silence on the possibility of appeal was
another incredible contrast to the Olmert verdict.
In the latter, you
could see the veins in the necks of the prosecution’s lawyers almost popping out
in righteous anger and clearly signaling an intent to appeal that just needed to
be technically confirmed.
While Liberman started the trial with his
trademark “everything is the Garden of Eden” mantra, one could see the case
draining him and causing him more anxiety as time went on.
When he was
cross-examined, while not broken, he was also not fully the self-assured
political force that he often appears to be in public. At times, he looked
nervous and openly unsure of himself.
His greatest show of confidence was
when he called his former deputy Danny Ayalon a liar during his and Ayalon’s
testimony, shouting out from his bench.
Ayalon, incidentally, appeared
confident and calm throughout his testimony and unrattled by Liberman’s
The prosecution, in contrast, appeared to start the trial with
high confidence in its cause, but little by little appeared more unsure as it
grappled with Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh turning hostile witness, Liberman’s general
implacability, and the fiery interruptions and objections of Liberman’s lawyer
Jacob Weinroth, who at one point declared in a raised voice to Sabel that she
should “be careful.”
As the trial reached its end, it was hard to say
whether Liberman or the prosecutors appeared more confident – but in a matter of
seconds on Wednesday, all became clear.