Weinstein to make decision on Lieberman case by March

Asst. A-G says delays took place as result of the prosecutors strike; intensive meetings on decision are scheduled for next week.

By DAN IZENBERG
January 20, 2011 16:59
2 minute read.
FOREIGN MINISTER Avigdor Lieberman

Lieberman talks to press. (photo credit: Pool/Haaretz, Tal Cohen)

 
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The state’s decision on whether to indict or close the criminal investigation against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is likely to be made by the end of February, Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein’s senior aide, Razz Nazri, informed the Ometz government watchdog group late last week.

“We have already asked to schedule two days of additional discussions [on the matter] during the month of February,” Nazri wrote. “We estimate, and it is our intention, to make the decision by the end of the month.”

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On August 2, 2009, police handed over the evidence it had gathered on the Lieberman investigation to the state prosecution with a recommendation to indict him. On the same day, in a response to a petition by Lieberman to the High Court of Justice demanding to speed up the investigation, the state informed the court that “the prosecution will give top priority to the handling of the file given the lengthy amount of time that has [already] elapsed so that the matter can be presented to the attorney-general as early [as possible] to enable him to made a decision.”

Now, according to Nazri’s letter to Ometz, at least 18 months will have passed between the time police handed over the file to the prosecution and the time the prosecution decides what to do with it.

The police investigation against Lieberman began in 2000. Referring to the length of time that had elapsed without a decision being made on the case, Lieberman’s lawyer, Ya’acov Weirton, charged that “there has never been anything like this in the history of the State of Israel.”

According to the state prosecution, however, the investigation currently under consideration by the state prosecution began in 2006 and not in 2000.

In a letter written on October 26, 2006, Nazri wrote, “The investigation being conducted now deals with new matters that have come up during the [original] investigation and that arouse suspicions of possible violations of the Criminal Code regarding ethical conduct.



As a result, police have had to continue investigating the affair. Currently, the investigation is focusing on these [alleged] violations and not on the original ones involving election campaign funding.”


In order to emphasize that the investigation was not as prolonged as Lieberman claimed, the state in 2008 formally announced that it was closing the original investigation.

The new suspicions against the Israel Beiteinu leader include fraud, breach of trust, bribery and money laundering.

Police suspect that Lieberman obtained NIS 10 million which was funneled through six to eight straw companies. These acts allegedly occurred while he served as transportation minister, national infrastructure minister and strategic affairs minister.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich downplayed the impact of an indictment during a speech in Kfar Saba on Saturday, saying that his party had many good people and would continue to exist even if the minister stepped down from its leadership.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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