Lieberman Admits to Assaulting Boy

The state and National Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Lieberman have reached a plea bargain on Lieberman's indictment for assaulting a minor.

Under the deal, presented by both sides to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court yesterday, Lieberman admitted to assaulting a 12-year-old boy from the settlement of Tekoa and bruising and threatening another boy who allegedly hit Lieberman's son.

Prosecutor Na'ama Soltnik and Attorney Dov Weisglass, representing Lieberman, asked the court to accept payment of a fine, compensation to the child who was hit and a promise by Lieberman never to commit such acts again as part of the plea bargain.

Judges Shulamit Dotan, Rahel Shilo-Gertel and Aryeh Rumnov said that they would give their response this afternoon.

The incident took place in December 1999, at the settlement of Nokdim, where Lieberman lives. His 12-year-old son told him that three children had hit him. Lieberman went in search of the alleged culprits, and found one hiding in a caravan.

Lieberman is said to have hit the boy in the face, causing the boy to fall. The minister then took the boy by his shirt collar and arm and drove him to his parents house in Tekoa to complain that he had hit his son, and allegedly threatened to hit the boy again should he ever return to Nokdim.

The Knesset House Committee lifted Lieberman's parliamentary immunity a few months ago so that he could be tried.

At the start of the trial yesterday, Weisglass said that Lieberman's son had been beaten black and blue and that the child from Tekoa had sustained "a microscopic swelling under his eye" when Lieberman tried to take him to his parents. Weisglass called the incident a typical squabble between neighbors in isolated settlements and said that such squabbles rarely reach the courts.

Soltnik responded that the State Prosecutor's Office believes violent crimes, especially the assault of minors, warrant a harsh punishment. She stressed that Lieberman's acts were unjustified, and rejected Weisglass's claim that this was a minor event not worthy of the court's time. Nevertheless, she said, in Lieberman's case, such behavior was atypical, and was the unplanned response of a father whose son had been hurt.

Soltnik added that Lieberman's confession was important in and of itself, since he is a public figure whose position could be damaged by the confession. She also said the plea bargain presented to the court was quite typical in such cases.