The testimony and evidence stage of the trial that will determine the political fate of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is underway. Former Ambassador to Belarus Ze'ev Ben Aryeh was the first witness to testify in the fraud and breach of trust trial.
Ben Aryeh was convicted of unauthorized disclosure of information and obstruction of justice as part of a plea bargain for tipping off Lieberman about details pertaining to an investigation into his financial dealings while he served as a Knesset member.
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Ben Aryeh was sentenced to four months of community service.
The former foreign minister is being accused of pushing Ben Aryeh's appointment to the post of ambassador in Latvia without reporting the information he received from him during the nomination process.
Lieberman in court (Archive photo: Gil Yohanan)
The State alleges that Lieberman's interference in the appointment constituted abuse of authority.
Lieberman entered a plea of "Not guilty on all counts."
Last December, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein amended the indictment following new testimonies in the case.
While the charges of fraud and breach of trust remained unchanged, the revised indictment added details on Lieberman's involvement in Ben Aryeh's appointment.
It was noted that the resigning foreign minister had instructed his deputy, Daniel Ayalon, to appoint Ben Aryeh as the ambassador to Latvia claiming he was the most qualified for the job. Ayalon will be testifying for the prosecution and will be its main witness.
When Ben Aryeh was asked what he did to be appointed for the position, he replied: "Sadly or not, I received no preferred treatment."
Lieberman and Ben Aryeh's testimonies contradicted: Ben Aryeh testified that beyond giving Lieberman information in an envelope, he also briefed him on the investigation against him.
But Lieberman claimed the two never discussed the issue.
Attorney Eran Zeller from the State Prosecutor's Office questioned Ben Aryeh in court and asked him whether Lieberman pushed his first ambassadorial position forward (this refers to Ben Aryeh's first appointment, not the one the indictment refers to.)
In his 2010 police interrogation Ben Aryeh said he discussed the issue with Lieberman at the time and asked for his assistance in the appointment. But in court, Ben Aryeh claimed he cannot recall the incident, and the prosecution motioned to declare him a hostile witness.
On Tuesday, police released the transcripts of Lieberman's interrogations.
The released materials represent a single investigation session that took place in March 2010.
According to the transcripts, the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman accused his investigators as kowtowing to the press and frequently resorted to derogatory terms.
Lieberman dismissed the credibility of Ben-Aryeh as a witness, branding him as "weak of character," repeatedly dubbing him an "idiot," and saying "had I investigated him for 10 hours, I'd made him confess he crucified Jesus Christ."
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