Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, pictured in September 2012
A senior Israeli diplomat who warned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, pictured in September 2012, about a police investigation of his activities, was sentenced to four months of community service on Sunday, court documents showed. © Gali Tibbon - AFP/File
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, pictured in September 2012
AFP
Last updated: October 28, 2012

Israeli diplomat sanctioned over Lieberman probe

A senior Israeli diplomat who warned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman about a police investigation of his activities, was sentenced to four months of community service on Sunday, court documents showed.

Zeev Ben Aryeh, the ambassador to Belarus between 2004-2009, was convicted in May under a plea bargain of obstructing justice and passing information to an unauthorised person.

During a hearing at Jerusalem District Court, he was handed a four-month sentence, which the judge converted to community service.

In October 2008, Ben Aryeh tipped off Lieberman, who was visiting Minsk as an MP, that Israeli police had contacted their counterparts in Belarus for help with a probe into crimes allegedly committed by the ultranationalist politician.

During the visit, the ambassador briefed Lieberman on the issue and handed him a confidential document relating to the investigation, the court found.

"During the meeting between them, the defendant made known to Lieberman details of the request for legal help and gave him details, some of them in written form, about the content of the request," said Judge Hagit Mack-Kalmanovitz, describing the sentence as "appropriate."

In April 2010, Ben Arye was forced to resign from his post over the allegations and, a month later, police recommended charging him. At the same time, they recommended charging Lieberman with a breach of public trust.

A year earlier, police had suggested that Lieberman be indicted on charges of bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

In April 2011, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he was considering pressing criminal charges against Lieberman, but he has yet to make a decision.

Lieberman, whose ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party is the second largest in Israel's ruling coalition, has pledged to step down as a minister and MP if he is charged.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his ruling Likud party would run on a joint list with Lieberman's faction, with the hawkish foreign minister running as number two on the list.

Since 1996, Lieberman has been investigated several times over allegations of fraud and corruption, but has never been charged. He denies any wrongdoing and says the police investigations are politically motivated.

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