First Published: 2012-11-08

 

Lieberman corruption scandal: Case threatens Israeli coalition

 

Attorney general, state prosecutor say they will make decision ‘within a month’ on whether to indict Lieberman on corruption charges.

 

Middle East Online

Alleged offences include fraud, breach of trust

JERUSALEM - Israel's attorney general and state prosecutor on Thursday announced that they would make a decision "within a month" on whether to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on corruption charges.

"A decision on whether to indict or not indict the respondent (Lieberman) is expected to be taken within a month," said a legal document sent to the High Court by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador.

The court submission was in answer to a petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which had demanded that Weinstein and Lador make a long-overdue decision on whether or not to indict Lieberman before the upcoming general election on January 22.

"The State of Israel is in the middle of an election campaign and therefore there is great importance attached to this decision, which will clarify whether there will be a criminal lawsuit against Foreign Minister Lieberman or not," said Tsuriya Madad Luzon, legal adviser to the Movement for Quality Government in a statement posted on the group's website.

In April 2011, Weinstein said he was considering pressing criminal charges against Lieberman, but he has so far not made a decision.

In cases in which a government minister or a judge is suspected of criminal activity, only the attorney general can decide whether or not to press charges.

The alleged offences include "fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money laundering and tampering with a witness," a justice ministry statement said at the time.

Court papers said Lieberman was suspected of receiving "millions of dollars" between 2001 to 2008 when he served as an MP and then as a cabinet minister.

Lieberman has been investigated several times since 1996 on corruption charges, but denies any wrongdoing, claiming the police investigations are politically motivated.

He has pledged to step down as both a minister and an MP if he is charged.

Lieberman's ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is the second largest in Israel's ruling coalition, and recently announced it would run on a joint list with the rightwing party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lieberman is running as number two on the list.

 

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