The State Attorney’s office on Thursday recommended not to appeal the November court decision to acquit Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of fraud and breach of trust charges.
The recommendation came despite the fact that officials in the Justice Ministry reportedly asserted that factual and legal errors existed in the court’s ruling, Channel 2 News reported.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who is the final arbiter of whether or not to push the appeal, has not yet decided whether to appeal the verdict or not, though he is expected to adopt the position of the prosecution.
Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, was indicted in December 2012 for illegally using his clout as foreign minister to promote former Israeli ambassador to Latvia Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, allegedly as a reward for Ben Aryeh leaking to Liberman details of a separate corruption investigation against him.
The judges said in their decision that Liberman should have informed the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee of his relationship with Ben Aryeh when Ben Aryeh was considered for the post. However, “there was no proof of a sufficiently severe conflict of interests” to merit a conviction, they said.
The judges also ripped into Liberman’s former deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, saying Ayalon’s testimony against his former boss regarding the appointment of Ben Aryeh was “uneven” and may have been driven by personal animus.
“There’s an irreconcilable contiguity between the date of Ayalon’s ouster from Yisrael Beytenu’s Knesset list and the time at which Ayalon chose to turn to police and the media and criticize Liberman over Ben Aryeh’s appointment and other matters, clearly contradicting opinions he had voiced earlier,” they said. “Thus there is, at the very least, reasonable doubt regarding Ayalon’s claims, and [the court] cannot make a criminal conviction of the defendant based on his testimony.”
Raphael Ahren and Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report