Ehud Olmert’s attorney, Roi Blecher, hinted that the former prime minister would appeal his Monday conviction on bribery charges in the Holyland affair, saying, “This isn’t the last word.”
“This is not a simple day for us or Mr. Olmert,” Blecher said at a press conference immediately following the verdict.
Sentencing arguments for Olmert are set to begin April 28. Blecher noted with some optimism that, while Olmert was convicted of bribery charges regarding NIS 500,000 given to his brother, Yossi, on his behalf, and he was convicted of receiving NIS 60,000 through his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, he was acquitted of two other bribery charges – one regarding funds given to Uri Sheetrit, the former chief architect for Jerusalem, and a NIS 70,000 alleged bribe given for commissioning an election survey.
Yonatan Tadmore, the lead prosecuting attorney for the state, sounded a triumphant note following the guilty verdict, saying, “Anyone should know that if they take money they won’t escape justice.”
Tadmore said that the ruling “proves that the rule of law is still here. There will be no compromise with corruption.”
He stated that Judge David Rozen’s ruling proves that the allegations in the case were not false stories.
Tadmore said that the Holyland affair had put a cloud over the city of Jerusalem’s public servants. “We can’t exaggerate the damage done to all of us who try to act honestly,” he said.
He praised former state attorney Moshe Lador, who was responsible for all of the decisions regarding the case.
“Today’s ruling proves that all criticism against him was misplaced,” Tadmore said in defense of Lador.
He also noted deficiencies in the verdict, including that the prosecution did not get to cross-examine Shmuel Duchner on key charges.
Lador told Channel 2, “The court proved that all of the spin about personal rivalries or improper motivations were baseless,” adding that “the courts will not be intimidated” and that “everyone is equal before the law.”
Tadmore also addressed Judge Rozen’s contention in court that a plea deal which Shula Zaken signed with the state for information she provided on Olmert should not allow her a reduced sentence, as she was “a central mover” in the bribery scheme. Tadmore said that the state intends to explain its argument to the court on why Zaken’s plea deal should go forward.
Zaken agreed to a plea deal with the state which involves her agreeing to serve 11 months in jail and paying NIS 100,000, the state dropping its appeal to the Supreme Court against her acquittals on major charges (she was convicted on two minor counts) in the Jerusalem corruption trial and other provisions.
Though the state originally rejected Zaken’s new evidence as insufficient, at the start of last week she produced a series of cassette tapes which the state said provide a “serious suspicion” of obstruction of justice and witness tampering against Olmert.
The court is not obligated to accept the plea deal.