Attorney general will not appeal Liberman verdict

Attorney general will not appeal Liberman verdict

Yehuda Weinstein cites low chance that appeals court would overturn ruling

Avigdor Liberman at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on November 6, 2013 (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Flash90)
Avigdor Liberman at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on November 6, 2013 (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool/Flash90)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will not appeal the acquittal of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on charges of fraud and breach of trust, the attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.

While Weinstein maintained that there were factual errors in the judge’s ruling, according to the statement from his office, the chances of success for an appeal would be low because “conventional judicial precedent is that the appeals court will generally not intervene [based on] factual determinations of the [convicting] judges.”

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.

Weinstein came under fire after the indictment for not pursuing the more serious charges in the corruption case.

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and MK Zahava Gal-on (Meretz) ripped into Weinstein for charging Liberman with lesser crimes of fraud and breach of trust rather than pursuing the much more serious allegations stemming from a separate high-profile inquiry into suspicions that he accepted bribes while serving as an MK.

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.”

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