Ex-Israeli foreign minister indicted for fraud
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gives a speech during the launch of the Likud-Beitenu elections campaign on December 25, 2012 in Jerusalem. (AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON)
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Israel’s former foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was formally indicted on Sunday, on charges of breach of trust and fraud.
The Soviet-born ex-minister is facing tougher charges than had previously been expected, after the formal application was handed to Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Sunday morning.
Lieberman resigned from his position in the cabinet on December 18 to deal with the allegations. He had hoped to have the proceedings finished in time for the Israeli parliament elections on January 22.
Lieberman is standing in the elections on the same ticket as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
He can remain a member of the Knesset whilst court-proceedings continue but if he is convicted, he will be unable to serve in the cabinet. If convicted of the higher charges, he will be barred from standing as a member of the Knesset for seven years after the end of any custodial sentence.
The charges relate to the appointment of Israel’s ambassador to Latvia, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, after the diplomat forwarded information regarding criminal investigations into Lieberman’s businesses.
Lieberman denies the charges.