Former Israeli foreign minister acquitted

Nov. 6, 2013 at 7:19 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A Jerusalem court Wednesday acquitted Avigdor Lieberman on fraud and breach of trust charges, paving the way for his return to the Foreign Ministry.

Shortly after the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel, Lieberman told reporters he wanted to put the trial behind him.

"This chapter is behind me. I am now focusing on the challenges ahead," Lieberman told the media following the court's verdict. Lieberman's comments were broadcast live on national radio and television stations.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned Lieberman to congratulate him and said he was glad Lieberman could return to the Cabinet and "continue to work together for Israel's benefit," Israel Radio said.

In 2012, Lieberman was charged with fraud and of breach of trust, stemming from a Belarussian money-laundering investigation. Lieberman stepped down as foreign minister but no successor was appointed.

The charges alleged in October 2008 Ze'ev Ben-Aryeh the Ambassador to Belarus handed Lieberman a note with information concerning a state investigation into money laundering allegations against Lieberman. The prosecution claimed Lieberman destroyed the note and failed to report Ben-Aryeh's actions, and allegedly assisted in procuring Ben-Aryeh's promotion in the Foreign Ministry ranks.

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