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Court convicts former ambassador to Belarus (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK, JPOST.COM STAFF 05/21/12) Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=270853
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The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday convicted former Israeli ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh of disclosure in breach of duty and obstruction of justice. The sentence came within the framework of a plea bargain agreement reached by the parties, in which Ben-Aryeh admitted wrongdoing in exchange for a sentence of four to six months of community service and a probationary sentence to be determined by the court.
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Ze’ev Ben-Aryeh, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Belarus between 2004-2009, is alleged to have disclosed confidential information to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in 2008 regarding a request by Israeli police to the Belarusian authorities for assistance in a criminal investigation into Liberman, who at the time was an MK.
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According to his indictment, in February 2008, Ben-Aryeh received a request that Israeli police had sent to its embassy in Belarus for assistance relating to the criminal investigation into Liberman, who at the time served as an MK.
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The police asked that the request be referred to the Belarusian judicial authorities, the indictment said.
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The indictment stated that Liberman visited Belarus in October 2008, and met with Ben-Aryeh. During that meeting, Ben-Aryeh allegedly told Liberman about the request for legal assistance, and gave him various details about it, including in writing.
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According to the indictment, Ben-Aryeh exploited the trust placed in him as an ambassador, and gave information to Liberman without lawful authority.
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Liberman, the indictment continued, was not authorized to receive that information, especially in the light of his status as the suspect about which the Israeli authorities had filed a case.
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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has said that he will soon announce his decision in the probe into the foreign minister.
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Weinstein informed Liberman in April last year that he planned to indict him – pending a hearing – on charges of fraud, breach of trust, fraudulent receipt, money laundering and witness harassment.
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Liberman is suspected of receiving millions of dollars from private business people, through straw companies, between the years 2001 and 2008, while he was a member of Knesset and a cabinet minister.
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If Liberman is indicted, he will be forced to resign as a minister. However, if he reaches a plea bargain with the state, he may be able to resign for a single term, potentially making him eligible to serve as a minister in the future. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/21/12)
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