While former prime minister Ehud Olmert has been acquitted of two of the three
charges brought against him in his Jerusalem District Court corruption trial,
his legal battles are far from over.
In a completely separate trial,
Olmert is also one of 16 defendants (13 individuals and three companies) charged
over the Holyland affair, in which real estate developers allegedly paid tens of
millions of shekels to public employees and elected officials to advance the
Holyland project in Jerusalem, including by shortening planning times, smoothing
over planning objections, rezoning land, granting tax breaks and increasing the
permitted amount of construction.
That trial is not the first time the
former prime minister has faced criminal charges – and not the first time he has
been acquitted of those charges.
In an odd twist, during his corruption
trial Olmert maintained that a loan he received from another US businessman and
friend, Joe Alimaliah, was to pay for his expenses in the Likud “fictitious
invoices” trial in 1997.
Olmert had been charged with involvement in the
case of illegal donations received by Likud from various companies during 1988.
He was completely acquitted of all charges in that case.
though Olmert has been acquitted over the Rishon Tours affair, that scandal is
In January, the prosecution filed separate charges in the
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the owner of Rishon Tours, Emanuel
Baumwolspiner, charging him with falsifying travel invoices and sending them to
various nonprofit groups.
That indictment alleges that Rishon Tours
issued duplicate invoices for the same flight, and sent them to two or more
nonprofit organizations to pay. The travel agency also allegedly quoted
fictitious air ticket prices that did not tally with the price of the real air
ticket as charged by the airline.
Rishon Tours allegedly transferred the
fictitious invoices and receipts to Olmert’s office, who are alleged to have
used them to collect funding for the former prime minister’s travel.
indictment further alleges that Olmert, his bureau chief Shula Zaken and former
foreign relations coordinator Rachel Rizby Raz presented the fake invoices to
various bodies, including nonprofit organizations and even the state, with
requests to pay for travel expenses, allegedly also concealing that other bodies
were covering Olmert’s expenses for the same trip.