Investigator chosen for new PM probe

Fraud Squad head to lead investigation; Labor central c'tee to meet next month to discuss action.

October 15, 2007 23:55
1 minute read.
Investigator chosen for new PM probe

Danino 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

Dep.-Cmdr Itzik Avraham, the head of the police's National Fraud Squad, was appointed Monday to head the third criminal investigation pending against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Intelligence and Investigations Division chief Cmdr. Yohanan Danino named the senior police officer to head a team of eight investigators, after Mazuz decided on Sunday that preliminary evidence found against Olmert relating to alleged misconduct during his term as minister of industry and commerce between 2003 and 2005 justified a criminal probe. On the other hand, Olmert received good news on Monday when the Labor faction decided that the party's central committee would only meet next month to consider how to handle the investigations against the prime minister. MKs Ophir Paz-Pines and Shelly Yacimovich had pressed to convene the committee immediately to decide to leave the coalition. The prime minister spent the day presenting an image of business as usual. He spoke at a press conference on benefits for Holocaust survivors, attended Kadima's faction meeting and met with National Union chairman Benny Elon. But Olmert was noticeably tired and briefly fell asleep in front of the cameras at the press conference. His associates later said he was up late meeting with the Mossad to handle Monday's exchange of bodies with Hizbullah. At the faction meeting, MKs wanted to raise the issue of the investigations. But Olmert asked Finance Minister Roni Bar-On to discuss budgetary issues and after half an hour on the topic, Olmert left the meeting. Kadima MKs accused Olmert of trying to remove the issue of the investigations from the public agenda. But the presence of the protagonist in the Bank Leumi affair, Florida millionaire S. Daniel Abraham, in the Knesset on Monday, kept people talking about the probes and their potential to bring down the prime minister. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and faction whip Gideon Sa'ar met with the United Torah Judaism faction Monday and decided to make a new effort to work closely together to bring down Olmert's government.

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