Lieberman petitions High Court to end 10-year police investigation

Urges A-G to decide 'at last' whether to indict him or close the file.

Lieberman makes point 224 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Lieberman makes point 224 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz "at long last" decide whether to indict him or close the file against him "after a record 10 years have elapsed since the beginning of the police investigation." Lieberman's lawyer, Ya'acov Weinroth, wrote that "there has never been anything like this in the history of the State of Israel." The police began investigating Lieberman in 1998 on suspicion that he had violated the party funding laws before the 1999 election campaign. Lieberman, after resigning as director-general of the Prime Minister's Office under Binyamin Netanyahu in 1998, established the Israel Beitenu Party, which he continues to lead today. Since then, he has been under police investigation. In the petition, Lieberman charged that from time to time, beginning in 2003, he had written to the attorney-general to ask why his investigation was taking so long. Each time, the attorney-general wrote back that the investigation was still being conducted, that the police were working as fast as possible and that he was sorry the investigation was taking so long. On January 25, 2006, just before the latest election, Mazuz wrote to Lieberman, "We can only regret that the investigation and handling of the file is taking so long and that we have not yet made a final decision on the matter. The file is currently being studied by the state prosecution and reports about additional investigative actions [by the police] are incorrect." Three months later, the petition charged, on April 27, 2006, the state prosecution announced that police were investigating new allegations against Lieberman, these having to do with criminal offenses. In his announcement, Mazuz's assistant, attorney Raz Nizri, wrote, "the law enforcement officials will make efforts to complete this investigation as quickly as possible and a date has been set for another update in the near future." It is not clear whether any such update was ever made. Lieberman charged that since then, no decision has been taken. Liebermann charged that being under a cloud of suspicion as a result of the investigation has affected his political career. For example, he was barred from being appointed public security minister in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government. According to media reports, Lieberman was originally investigated on suspicion that his party received a credit line of $1 million before the 1998 elections, the security for which allegedly came from Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff. He was also suspected of having relations with Russian underworld figures who helped him earn large sums of money during a severe crisis in the Russian ruble. In 2005, the police completed their investigation and handed the file to the state prosecution. Soon afterwards, the prosecution announced that the police were investigating new suspicions against Lieberman. One of the reasons the investigation has taken so long is because the police conducted investigations in Austria and Cyprus after receiving permission from their governments. On April 22, 2007, Lieberman was questioned by police for eight hours, reportedly on suspicion that he had taken bribes.