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Ex-Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman indicted for fraud

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein submitted the indictment Thursday against Liberman for allegedly advancing the position of Zeev Ben Aryeh, Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus, in exchange for information on an investigation against him. The indictment followed more questioning this week of members of a Foreign Ministry appointments panel as well as further questioning of Liberman.

Liberman resigned last week as foreign minister, although he remains a member of the Knesset and the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

His resignation came days after Weinstein on Dec. 13 closed a 12-year investigation of Liberman, dismissing most of the charges but saying he would file the indictment for fraud and breach of trust. Last spring, Ben Aryeh confessed that he had received and passed documents to Liberman in 2008.

The filing of the indictment had been postponed following a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news that several members of a Foreign Ministry appointments panel were not questioned in the Ben Aryeh case and that their knowledge could lead to more serious charges against Liberman.

New evidence includes a conversation between Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon that reportedly shows Liberman actively lobbying for Ben Aryeh’s appointment as ambassador to Belarus.

Liberman announced recently that Ayalon would not be included on the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset list for the Jan. 22 elections. The party is running on a joint candidates’ list with the ruling Likud Party. Ayalon has stayed on at the Foreign Ministry despite Liberman stepping down.

Moral turpitude was not added to the charges, though it had been expected. Those convicted of moral turpitude cannot seek public office for at least seven years.
 

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