Danny Ayalon: Lieberman Trial Witnesses 'Feared For Their Lives'
Danny Ayalon, former MK and Deputy Minister in the previous government, stated Saturday evening in an interview with Channel 2's Meet the Press that he respects the outcome of the highly publicized Avigdor Lieberman trial, in which the former Foreign Minister was acquitted on Wednesday of charges of improperly advancing diplomat Ze'ev Ben Aryeh to the post of Ambassador to Latvia because the ambassador had revealed to Lieberman details of the police investigation against him.
According to Ayalon, those members of the Foreign Ministry called to testify were concerned for their lives during the proceedings. For that reason, Ayalon, says, he "can understand why those two witnesses 'forgot' to give greater detail during the trial."
"I understand that the two witnesses in question knew that two previous witnesses had disappeared, and also that Lieberman was expected to be reinstated in his post as Foreign Minister," he continued.
In the verdict delivered Wednesday by Judges Hagit Mack-Kalmanovitz, Yitzhak Shimoni, and Eitan Kornhauser, it was declared that Ayalon's testimony against Lieberman "was inconsistent about different topics at the heart of the issue on trial, and was not supported by the testimony of two witnesses, Gal and Rodez." The judges also took into consideration the relationship between Ayalon's removal from the Yisrael Beytenu list, and the timing at which Ayalon decided to turn to the police and the media with critical statements against Lieberman. They noted that before Lieberman fired Ayalon as his deputy, Ayalon gave a television interview denying any improriety in the appointment of Ben Aryeh as Ambassador to Latvia.
Ayalon defended the changes in his testimony by claiming he simply remembered new details. "People have asked me why I went back and changed the details [of my testimony," Ayalon stated. "There was no contradiction, I just remembered more details now."
"Ambassador Ben-Aryeh changed his testimony four times, and suddenly that's all okay?" Ayalon continued, firing back at critics. "Is it any wonder that witnesses who are threatened by Lieberman's return will suddenly contradict their previous testimonies?"
Asked about his personal relationship with Lieberman, who ousted him from the Yisrael Beytenu list days before the Knesset elections, Ayalon also said Friday that "the relationship with Lieberman ended at his initiative. I do not hold a grudge, and never hold a grudge."