Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein yesterday unveiled a new, harsher indictment against Avigdor Lieberman that accuses the former foreign minister of much greater involvement in appointing Ze’ev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia than the original indictment did.
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Though the charges against Lieberman fraud and breach of trust remain unchanged, the amended indictment could affect the question of whether his acts entailed moral turpitude. If convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, Lieberman would be barred from politics for the next seven years.
The amended indictment, which will be filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday, says that Lieberman ordered his deputy, Daniel Ayalon, to actively work to get Ben Aryeh’s appointment approved by the Foreign Ministry’s appointments committee. The original indictment had accused Lieberman only of failing to inform the committee of a crucial fact: that Ben Aryeh, while serving as ambassador to Belarus, had told then-MK Lieberman that police were seeking help from the Belarus authorities in their ongoing investigation against him. Lieberman also concealed this information from two bodies that subsequently ratified the appointment: the ministerial committee on foreign service appointments and the cabinet.
The new indictment says Lieberman told Ayalon, who chaired the appointments committee, that Ben Aryeh was the most suitable candidate for the job and should therefore get it. Ayalon, who didn’t know much about Ben Aryeh, therefore worked to get the appointment through the committee in accordance with his boss’ wishes.
The amended indictment lists several new witnesses, primarily people who were on the appointments committee at the time. First and foremost of these is Ayalon, whom Lieberman recently ousted from his Yisrael Beiteinu party’s Knesset slate. The witnesses will also include one of the nine candidates whom Ben Aryeh beat out for the job, as well as Ben Aryeh himself. Two of the new witnesses are currently serving as ambassadors overseas, but will return to testify in court.
The indictment accuses Lieberman of working to secure Ben Aryeh’s appointment “in gross violation of the trust reposed in him,” since he knew that Ben Aryeh had given him confidential information about the police’s inquiries in Belarus “with the intention of benefiting the defendant, and that appointing him first as an advisor on the foreign minister’s diplomatic staff, and then as ambassador to Latvia, constituted a form of recompense for someone who had committed grave acts on his behalf.”