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Verdict in Liberman trial set for early November

Former foreign minister could return to cabinet post if he is acquitted on fraud and breach-of-trust charges

Former foreign minister and head of the Yisrael Beytenu party Avigdor Liberman, July 30, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former foreign minister and head of the Yisrael Beytenu party Avigdor Liberman, July 30, 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The verdict in the trial of former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman will be announced on November 6, ending a period of uncertainty over the political future of a key coalition leader.

The three-judge panel hearing the case in Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court, judges Hagit Kalmanovitch, Eitan Korhauser and Yitzhak Shimoni, are to deliver the verdict in the long-running fraud and breach-of-trust case at 9 a.m. on November 6.

Liberman, who leads the Yisrael Beytenu party, was indicted in December 2012 over accusations of illegally using his clout as foreign minister to promote former ambassador to Latvia Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, allegedly as a reward for Ben Aryeh leaking to Liberman details of a corruption investigation against him.

The prosecution has claimed that Ben Aryeh handed the former minister a note containing information on the case against him during a private meeting between the two in a hotel room in Minsk in 2008. Liberman does not dispute the fact of the meeting or the existence of the note, but has testified that as soon as he realized what information the note contained, he discarded it in the hotel room’s bathroom. The former corruption investigation against Liberman that was discussed in the note was closed for lack of evidence.

Liberman was forced to step down from his cabinet position in December 2012 after the state prosecution announced its intention to file an indictment against him over the Ben Aryeh affair. He currently serves as chairman of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is serving as interim foreign minister until Liberman’s political future becomes clear.

If Liberman is found guilty and receives a sentence that carries with it a designation of “moral turpitude,” he will be barred from public service positions for seven years, possibly leading to a reshuffle of cabinet posts.

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