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Trial of former Israeli FM resumes


19:54, May 02, 2013

JERUSALEM, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The trial of former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of fraud and breach of trust resumed on Thursday at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court.

The hearing included the testimony of former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who took the stand to testify about the illegal appointment of former diplomat Ze'ev Ben Aryeh as the ambassador to Latvia.

"Lieberman asked me come into his room and we talked," Ayalon said. "He asked me to nominate Ben Aryeh, saying that he is the best candidate."

"I was surprised because I didn't know he was nominated for the role but it didn't make me fall off my feet," Ayalon added.

Ayalon said he assumed Lieberman was "exerting his authority and speaking out of experience" since he is an expert in Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states.

"When I called him and told him the nomination was approved in the ministry's appointments committee he thanked me," Ayalon added.

Lieberman is charged with illegally working in the ministry to promote Ben Aryeh as the ambassador to Latvia after the former provided him with confidential information pertaining to an ongoing investigation against Lieberman.

According to the indictment, Lieberman took an active part in promoting Ben Aryeh and told foreign ministry officials to appoint him over ten other candidates as a "reward" for assisting Lieberman.

Ayalon is the fifth and final witness testifying on behalf of the prosecution.

The prosecution suffered major blows in past hearings, as witnesses on its behalf said they did not remember their previous statements given to police about Lieberman's involvement in the appointment.

Among those witnesses is Ben Aryeh himself, who has been declared by the prosecution as a hostile witness, after he claimed that he did not remember asking the defendant to promote him.

"I don't remember asking Lieberman for any help. I completely don't remember," Ben Aryeh said on the stand last week.

Ben Aryeh was convicted in October of obstruction of justice and passing information to an unauthorized person as part of a plea bargain and sentenced to four months of community service.

If Lieberman is convicted of moral turpitude or sentenced to more than three months in prison, he will be barred from running for Knesset (parliament) for seven years.

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