The state prosecution on Thursday released a draft of an amended indictment against Avigdor Liberman that includes already-announced charges of breach of trust and fraud, as well as new details that could strengthen the case against the Yisrael Beytenu leader and make it more severe.
According to the new version of the indictment sent to Liberman’s defense team, while he served as foreign minister, Liberman explicitly instructed Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to push the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee to name Ze’ev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia — despite the fact that Ayalon did not know Ben Aryeh personally.
The charges are expected to be filed on Sunday, Israel Radio reported.
Ben Aryeh, during his previous post as Israel’s ambassador to Belarus, had allegedly given Liberman documents related to a second, far more serious probe into the then-foreign minister’s affairs. That investigation was later dropped for lack of evidence.
On Tuesday, amid reports that Ayalon had supplied damning new details against his former boss, police summoned Liberman for a 40-minute interrogation. On Thursday, it was announced that Ayalon had been added to the list of witnesses for the prosecution.
Liberman stepped down as foreign minister on December 14, after the state attorney announced his intention to file an indictment against him over what then appeared to be relatively minor allegations of breach of trust and fraud. However, since then, the indictment, which at the time seemed forthcoming, has been delayed.
Ayalon was unceremoniously omitted from Yisrael Beytenu’s Knesset election roster in early December.
The embattled head of the Yisrael Beytenu party has expressed hope that the case against him would be closed in time for the upcoming elections on January 22. However, the investigation’s resumption and the delay in filing the indictment seem certain to prevent Liberman from serving as a minister in at least the early period of the next government.
If Liberman is eventually convicted and sentenced to three or more months in prison, and if the court determines that the case involved moral turpitude, he would be banned from reentering politics for seven years.