Judges in the Jerusalem District Court agreed Tuesday to a request from the
prosecution in the trial of former PM Ehud Olmert to issue a court order
requiring Israeli banks to provide statements from Olmert’s personal accounts
between June 1996 and June 1998.
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The court order was requested after the
prosecution accused Olmert of using money donated in 1997 by American
businessman Moshe Talansky to cover personal deficits.
the money was used to cover expenses in the Likud “fictitious invoices” trial in
1997. The former prime minister had been charged with involvement in a case of
illegal donations received by Likud from various companies during 1988. He was
completely acquitted of all charges in that case.
Olmert’s defense team,
attorneys Navot Tel-Tzur and Roi Balcher, strongly objected to the judges’
decision to issue a court order to Olmert’s banks.
Amir Dan, Olmert’s
spokesperson, also slammed the court’s decision.
“The prosecution are on
a fishing trip. They are in such difficulties that after collecting 200 boxes of
investigation material, they only just remembered to ask for 15-year-old bank
statements about matters that are not even listed in the charge sheet,” Dan said
in a later statement.
The court also ruled on Tuesday to withhold
Olmert’s request for a media ban on publicizing the names of other people who
had given him donations.
The former prime minister was asked again to
give the names of other people who had donated but repeated previous requests
that he be allowed to refrain from saying the names in court because he did not
want them to be published.
Instead, Olmert wrote the names on a piece of
paper and handed it to the judges and the prosecutor.
The judges upheld
Olmert’s request that the names not be published, despite an objection from one
journalist who argued that there is no legal basis to withhold the donors’ names
in a public trial such as this one.
During Tuesday’s cross-examination,
state attorney Uri Korb also questioned the former prime minister over a loan of
$75,000 that he received in 1993 from American millionaire Joe
Korb asked Olmert to explain why sums from Talansky and
Almaliah were received to his personal account in Israel.
questioned the former prime minister about whether he recalled asking Talansky
for a donation and whether that money had been used to pay for his expenses in
the “fictitious invoices” suit.
Olmert continued to maintain that
Talansky had never transferred any money into his personal bank account and that
he had never asked him to do so.
In later questioning, Olmert explained
why he had told police investigators in 2008 that an additional sum of $100,000
in his account was due to sales of paintings by his wife, Aliza Olmert. The
former prime minister said he had given a “spontaneous answer” because at the
time of the interrogation he had remembered only the painting sales but not any
In response to Korb’s assertion that Olmert’s answer to police
had been baseless, the former prime minister said that in 2006, his wife Aliza
had held an exhibition of her work in the US, and that explained the large sum,
and added that Korb’s questions were a hurtful attempt to slur his
“It seems bizarre to me that you got $100,000 for the pictures only
in 2006,” said Korb, who later put to Olmert that Aliza Olmert had not had
income approaching that sum in previous years and that no documentation of
painting sales had been found, although investigators had asked him to provide
Korb later questioned Olmert on the circumstances of his asking
Almaliah, from whom he had received a loan of $75,000, for a further gift of
“You asked a man to whom you owed $75,000 if he could give you
a gift and you don’t remember having that conversation with him?” asked
Olmert said that he had a close personal friendship for many years
“He’s a close friend. I can ask him for things that I
don’t ask from those who are not my friends,” said Olmert.
questioning, Korb presented Olmert with printed pages from the office diary of
his former aide, Shula Zaken.
In a 2004 diary entry, Zaken had recorded
that she had received $72,000 from Talansky.
In the same entry, Zaken had
written the words “I gave $7,500 to Ehud.”
Olmert maintained that he had
not seen the diary pages before and noted that the Zaken’s entry might have
meant that she transferred the money to various “significant” public events he
was organizing at the time, including events connected to the disengagement from
“If Shula did transfer money, it’s most likely that it would have
been connected to that, but I don’t remember it,” Olmert said.
referred to telephone conversations that took place between Zaken and Talansky
and said that together with the entries in Zaken’s diary, they indicated that
Olmert had requested that Talansky give him the $72,000.
“He gave the
money at your request,” said Korb.
Olmert replied that he completely
denied the prosecution’s allegation.
The cross-examination is set to
continue until Thursday.