AG Could Elect to Indict Lieberman Before Elections, Legal Officials Say

Yehuda Weinstein has been criticized for foot-dragging the high-profile graft case, with the attorney general holding dozens of meets without reaching a decision.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein could recommend that the state indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman over graft charges, perhaps even before the upcoming elections, legal sources estimated on Wednesday.

In April 2011, Weinstein announced that he had tentatively decided to indict Lieberman on charges of fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud, money laundering and witness tampering.

Authorities suspect private businessmen transferred millions of dollars to companies under Lieberman's control between 2001 and 2008. Lieberman was a private citizen for part of that time, but a Knesset member and minister for the rest.

Senior Justice Ministry officials involved in the case have been complaining for months about Weinstein's foot-dragging in making a decision, arguing that the evidentiary problems have already been exhaustively discussed.

Speaking on Wednesday, sources indicated that it was unlikely that Weinstein, who has been dealing with the case since coming into office in early 2010, would reach a decision this week. In the past, the AG set several dates in which he was due to release his verdict, failing to meet each and every one.

A few months ago, Weinstein committed to concluding his consideration of the case until the beginning of the new legal year, September, only to, again, fail to meet the date.

It is thought that Weinstein, who has summoned the state's top legal officials dozens of times to discuss the details of the so-called Lieberman Affair, cannot yet rule this way or the other. Weintein is expected to lead more hearings concerning the case in the coming weeks.

Sources in the Justice Ministry could not yet say for certain what the AG's decision would be. However, the common estimate is that a indictment would be submitted against the foreign minister, perhaps even before the early elections, which shouldn't pose as an obstacle en route to a final decision.

A directive by former AG Menachem Mazuz stipulates that ongoing work on files concerning public officials would continue without delay, even during an election. If an indictment is indeed filed, Lieberman would not be able to be named minister in the next government as long as his trial continues.