Israel's AG Will Not Appeal Lieberman Acquittal

Top Justice Ministry officials believe that were clear grounds for an appeal.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced Wednesday that he will not appeal last month’s magistrate's court acquittal of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on fraud and breach of trust charges.

Weinstein has been deliberating whether to appeal the unanimous acquittal by three judges of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. He has told confidants that, while he very much wanted to appeal, he knew that the chance of a district court overturning the Jerusalem magistrate’s court ruling was slim.

Before the acquittal, Weinstein said he would pursue the case “to the end.” However, he is said to be reluctant to take a chance on having the prosecution embarrassed yet again.

Former State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, who retired from his post earlier this week, denied a Haaretz report that, while he supported an appeal he had not insisted on it. Lador refused to publicize his position, saying that only the final decision by the state should be publicized, not how that decision was reached.

The top criminal prosecutors in the Justice Ministry, who include deputy attorney general Raz Nazri and deputy state prosecutor for criminal matters Eli Abarbanel, believe that while there is legal justification for appealing what they say are the mistaken determinations of the three magistrate’s court judges, filing an appeal would not bring about a reversal of the results.

Following a report on Channel 2 last week that senior officials were leaning against filing an appeal in the case, the Justice Ministry issued a statement denying that Weinstein had made a decision.

Some ministry officials countered by noting that Weinstein had also denied that a decision had been made about the new state prosecutor right before Shai Nitzan was appointed to the post.

On Monday, after a ceremony at which Nitzan formally replaced Lador, there was another meeting to discuss the Lieberman case. Although the dominant position was that an appeal had no chance, Weinstein asked “for another night to sleep on it.”

Apparently the only attorneys who are firmly behind appealing are those who actively prosecuted the case – Michal Sibel-Darel and Eran Zeller.