The Justice Ministry on Wednesday hit back at former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his public relations team, calling their public statements about the state’s intent to appeal Olmert’s acquittals “destructive” and inappropriate “personal” attacks.
The state attorney informed Olmert’s lawyer, Eli Zohar, on Tuesday night that it would be appealing Olmert’s acquittals and sentence in the Jerusalem District Court corruption trial.
Following the state’s telephone call to Zohar, the news became public, according the Justice Ministry spokesperson, due to the actions of Olmert’s team.
Once the news was public, Olmert’s team lashed out at the state attorney’s decision, with one source saying the decision was purely one of seeking “revenge” for generally having lost the case.
The source added, “Time after time, they got rid of him, and now they’re trying again.”
“They won’t forgive him for being found innocent. That’s what happens with the only body in Israel that does not have oversight,” said the source.
Olmert spokesman Amir Dan, meanwhile, called the decision “a personal and wicked witch hunt that was a waste of the public’s funds.”
Responding to these allegations, the Justice Ministry said that Olmert’s public relations team “as usual presents a distorted view to the public” both in regard to the contents of the court verdict regarding Olmert and with respect to the “process of reaching decisions in the state attorney’s office.”
The spokesperson denied that any personal or non-legal considerations played any role in the state’s decision.
Rather, the decision was based on a careful and meticulous evaluation of the court’s verdict by a range of top officials within the prosecutor’s office.
The spokesperson said there is no place in the public arena for the kinds of statements made by Olmert’s team, and viewed the attacks on the state as grave and showing “a lack of responsibility.”
As to the timing of the decision, which comes as media reports have highlighted a possible political comeback by Olmert, the state said that once it had reached a final decision, it believed it immediately needed to notify Olmert’s attorney.
In one of the most significant corruption trials in the country’s history, in July the court found Olmert not guilty of wrongdoing in the Rishon Tours affair, the Talansky affair and allegations regarding misleading the state comptroller, only finding him guilty of a single charge in the Investment Center Affair.
The indictment spanned events that allegedly took place during 2002-2006, first during Olmert’s tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and later when he served as a government minister.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.