Weizman probe not over, despite officials statement

JERUSALEM — State Attorney Edna Arbel's statement that she does not anticipate an indictment for President Ezer Weizman resulted in heavy criticism — and a clarification.

Weizman has been under investigation over his ties with businessman Edouard Seroussi, who gave him a cash gift and allegedly maintained business ties with him.

On Monday, Arbel told Israel Army Radio: "Based on the picture as it has emerged so far, I do not see us talking about an indictment."

She also said the police investigation would be completed "in a matter of days."

Although he appeared relieved to hear Arbel's words at the time, Weizman refused to comment on whether or not he plans to resign when the investigation is over. He has repeatedly said that he will await Arbel's report before making a decision.

Following criticism of her statement on Israel Army Radio, Arbel issued a clarification Tuesday, saying that she had repeatedly stressed during the radio interview that the investigation was not over and that no decision would be made until it is completed.

During the interview Monday, she also said that she and Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein will likely release a report at the end of the investigation that will also address the moral and ethical aspects of the case as they apply to a senior public official of Weizman's stature.

Weizman allegedly received the money while serving as a Knesset member, a cabinet minister and during the beginning of his first presidential term.

"I don't rule out the possibility that we will write a report that will clarify to the public what we have done, what the facts were, why we decided to order a police investigation, what the investigation yielded and the conclusions we reached," Arbel said.

Asked about Arbel's statement, Inspector General Yehuda Wilk said neither he nor the police investigating the Weizman-Seroussi affair know at this point what the outcome of the investigation will be. "The state attorney also did not determine unequivocally that there would not be an indictment," he added.

Wilk said the eight police investigators involved in the case are not restricted to examining only the business relations between Weizman and Seroussi but any factors related to the case.

Meanwhile, the Movement for Quality Government wrote to State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg and Knesset State Control Committee Chairman Uzi Landau on Tuesday, asking them to investigate the conduct of the State Attorney's Office from the beginning of the affair.

Attorney Barak Calev wrote that Arbel's statement that Weizman would probably not be indicted "could seriously hurt the proper conduct of the investigation and deviates from the accepted norms whereby nothing is said about the outcome of a criminal investigation before it is completed."

Calev said Arbel's statement is the latest in a list of "problematic actions on the part of the State Attorney's Office in this affair, including the inexplicable delay in beginning the investigation and the conduct of the preliminary examination."

During the police investigation, Weizman has curtailed his activities with regard to granting of pardons and swearing in judges. He was urged to do so by Justice Minister Yossi Beilin.

Meanwhile Weizman's daughter, Michal, and her husband were questioned by police for three hours over a sum of $100,000 that they allegedly received from the trust fund in which Seroussi's gifts were deposited, Channel 1 reported.

Weizman told reporters that his seven-hour interrogation Sunday had "not been simple," but he was full of praise for the way in which the police handled it.

He said that, during the 1980s, when he allegedly received money from Seroussi, it was not uncommon for Knesset members to do additional jobs or have business interests. "I remember the days when MKs worked or acted as entrepreneurs for firms," Weizman said.

Asked about the lack of clarity with regard to public figures receiving gifts, Weizman added: "The government must make a decision. If it wants to make laws, let it do so. It will make it simpler for us all."