Avigdor Lieberman, ex-Israeli foreign minister, pleads not guilty as trial opens


Former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman arrives in the audience room of Jerusalem Magistrate's Court for the opening of his trail in which he is facing charges of fraud and breach of trust on February 17, 2013. The opening hearing before a panel of three judges was to begin at 1200 GMT, with Lieberman expressing confidence that he will be cleared of all charges and will return to resume his job as foreign minister.


Ariel Schalit

Avigdor Lieberman pled not guilty to fraud and breach of trust charges Sunday, as his trial opened in Jerusalem. 

Lieberman, Israel's former foreign minister, stepped down from his post in December, when the charges were first filed against him. They involve his role in the promotion of Israeli ambassador in Belarus Zeev Ben Aryeh to a post in Latvia, according to BBC News.

Ben Aryeh reportedly supplied Lieberman with information about an investigation into the Belarusian foreign minister in exchange for his help, Ha'aretz reported

Initial proceedings for the trial have been set for April.

During the trial, Lieberman can continue his role as a Knesset member, but he is barred from sitting in the cabinet.

The outspoken politician known for his hardline stances is still the head of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, which narrowly won the recent elections on a joint ticket with Netanyahu's Likud, the Associated Press reported

Should Lieberman be found to possess "moral turpitude" and be given a prison sentence of over three months, he would be banned from serving as a minister for seven years, Agence France Presse reported

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