New charges against Lieberman probed

Investigation, begun in 2000, addresses suspicions of corruption.

Police are looking into new corruption allegations against Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman arising out of the original investigation that began six years ago, Justice Ministry spokesman Ya'acov Galanti said Thursday. The announcement followed a meeting between senior Justice Ministry officials, including Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and State Attorney Eran Shendar, and top police investigators, including Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, head of police operations, and Lt.-Cmdr. Miri Golan, head of the National Fraud Squad. According to the announcement, "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, the police have had to continue investigating the affair. Currently, the investigation is focusing on these [alleged] violations and not the original ones involving election campaign funding." The police have come under heavy fire for taking so long to complete the investigation that began in 2000, following allegations that appeared in the State Comptroller's Report regarding the sources of Lieberman's funding for the 1999 Knesset election campaign, in which the party he established ran in for the first time. Recently, Mazuz ruled that Lieberman could not serve as internal security minister in the new government because he was under police investigation. The Justice Ministry acknowledged the criticism in its statement. "The law enforcement bodies are well aware of how long the procedures [in this investigation] are taking and the discomfort it is creating for the public and the suspect himself. However, all those who participated in [Thursday's] meeting are of the opinion that we cannot ignore the new material and the suspicions it arouses. Therefore, the investigation must continue."