Court trial for Israel's FM begins

Feb. 17, 2013 at 8:45 AM
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JERUSALEM, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Sunday pleaded not guilty in a Jerusalem court to charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Lieberman's Jerusalem District Court trial is expected to take months, The Jerusalem Post said. The judges set the next hearing for April 25, Maariv said.

Three judges will preside over the hearings, The Post said.

Lieberman stepped down from his post after he was indicted Dec. 27 on the charges of fraud and breach of public trust for allegedly failing to report a leak by former Belarusian ambassador Ze'ev Ben-Aryeh concerning a police probe against Lieberman in Belarus, for allegedly laundering millions of dollars. The former foreign minister is also suspected of trying to advance Ben-Aryeh's diplomatic position in exchange for the information he received, Haaretz said.

During his trial, Lieberman is barred from sitting in the Cabinet but can continues his parliamentary activities, Haaretz said. If he is found guilty and the offenses carry moral turpitude, he will have to resign immediately from the Knesset. If he is sentenced to more than three months in prison, Lieberman will be barred from running for the Knesset for seven years, starting from the date he completes his sentence, the paper said.

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