Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yohanan Danino said on Saturday that indicting Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman for crimes he is suspected of having committed more than a decade ago would be ineffective.
Speaking at an event in Beersheba, Danino also said a law should be legislated to prevent convicted criminals from entering politics.
Danino, who was in charge of the 14-year Lieberman investigation, said, "It is not reasonable that a suspect should be indicted for a crime committed more than 10 years ago. There is no gain in that, especially when we are talking about public fraud and behavioral norms. Even if we decide to indict him, the legal process may take years, and by the time a verdict is announced, we will have forgotten what the person was indicted for in the first place."
The investigation centers on allegations of fraud, money laundering, breach of trust and witness tampering. Lieberman is suspected of having received millions of dollars from private businesspeople abroad, among them Austrian entrepreneur Martin Schlaff, Israeli-Uzbeki businessman Michael Cherney, and diamond tycoons Dan Gertler and Daniel Gittenstein, who allegedly funneled funds through what may have been front companies and corporations owned by Lieberman.
Danino said that even today, no decision had been made on whether to indict Lieberman, and this was unreasonable. He said the Knesset should legislate to limit the period during which indictments could be submitted against public or private individuals, and if no indictment was submitted within this time, the investigation should be terminated and the file closed.
On April 30, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced that a final decision on whether Lieberman would be indicted on criminal charges was to be made within weeks. The announcement was a response to a query by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which demanded to know why no progress was being made on the investigation.
Responding to the query, Assistant Attorney-General Noa Mishor said the decision whether to go ahead with the draft indictment against Lieberman would not be postponed, even in the event of early elections. Should the attorney-general decide to prosecute, Lieberman would not be allowed to serve in the next government.
Lieberman's lawyers denied the allegations at the pre-indictment hearings earlier this year. The State Prosecution, which reports to the attorney-general, has since deliberated the case over the course of several meetings to determine its legal merits and the evidence produced by the investigation.
"We are awaiting amended pleading material on several issues from Lieberman's lawyers, which they had asked submit in writing," said a statement released by the attorney-general's office. "The attorney-general has decided that the material must be submitted by the end of next week. A decision in the Lieberman case can be expected within weeks."
A decision to go to trial would likely have far-reaching political ramifications, since filing an indictment against a cabinet minister would automatically force him to step down.