Lieberman - Reuters - Oct 12, 2010
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman before his meeting with his Finnish counterpart on October 12, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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Ofer Vaknin
Avia Alef. Photo by Ofer Vaknin

Due to the prosecutors' strike, the State Prosecutor's Office has called off the discussions on whether to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that were due to begin today. It is not clear when they will take place.

Lieberman is suspected of laundering millions of shekels through front companies set up for him by his lawyer, Yoav Many. He also stands accused of fraud and breach of trust.

A senior attorney at the State Prosecutor's Office yesterday blasted Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who conditioned resuming the negotiations with the state prosecutors on their ending the strike and returning to work.

"Striking is a basic right," said attorney Avia Alef, head of the economic crimes department at the State Prosecutor's Office. "That's what I was taught in my first year of law studies. We're not in the era of the industrial revolution."

The state prosecutors launched a nationwide strike last month in a bid to improve their conditions.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and a team of senior prosecutors were to decide this week whether to indict Lieberman and on what charges. The discussions were due to begin this morning and continue until Thursday.

"This is without a doubt one of the most important cases in the country. The strike has prevented a decision from being reached, and a lot of work has gone down the drain," Alef said. "In complex cases of government corruption the delay is damaging the rule of law."

Another complex case harmed by the strike is the investigation into former Bank Hapoalim Chairman Dan Dankner on suspicions of fraud, conflict of interest and violations of banking regulations.

"The delays will cause an intolerable backlog, leading to more delays. If we want a strong state prosecution and worthy people, they must be rewarded adequately," Alef said.

"It's not merely the mobile phone expenses [one of the striking lawyers' demands] for calls from court to summon witnesses, or providing them with vehicles .... We have to be super professional and excellent to attract good brains, because we're up against criminals who have the most sophisticated battery of lawyers for the most sophisticated economic crimes. How far can you attract lawyers merely on the basis of the Zionist idea? They also have to buy groceries and pay their mortgages."

Alef said the State Prosecutor's Office has written to Neeman, asking him to intervene to end the strike fairly and immediately.

"Neither the attorney general nor the state prosecutor need lawyers who come crawling back to work," Alef said. "If you want an independent prosecution that makes professional, fair and intelligent decisions, it's not in your interest to break the attorneys. On the contrary, they must be empowered. If someone wants to break the lawyers and keep them at home for months, it will not benefit either the state or the system."

The head of the police investigations and intelligence division, Yoav Segalovich, said the strike was seriously damaging law enforcement's ability to function.

"The strike is leading to the acquittal of defendants, to the release of suspects who may be dangerous. Court hearings are being put off," he said. "It is significantly harming the fight against crime."