Morris Talansky, the main witness from the Jerusalem corruption trial against
former prime minister Ehud Olmert, took a second swing at Olmert on Sunday at
the Tel Aviv District Court in the Holyland trial.
“Ehud Olmert called me
and told me his brother was in economic trouble after losing in the elections,
and asked me to help him,” said Talansky, in discussing three documents which
the state presented to him.
Talansky indicated that he eventually gave
Yossi Olmert $30,000 in 2004 in response to Olmert’s request.
called Olmert's former aide Shula Zaken “the alter ego” of the former prime
The state called Talansky to show that even as far back as
2004, a time period close in time to many of the accusations of bribery against
Olmert in the Holyland trial, Yossi Olmert had a pattern of conduct of asking
others to help his brother pay off his debts.
Olmert’s legal team has
denied that he made any attempts to get others to pay off Yossi Olmert’s
Olmert is accused of taking bribes of NIS 500,000 – out of an
overall NIS 9 million in accused bribes, most of which allegedly went to him
directly – to specifically help his brother pay off his debts from S.D., the
main witness in the case whose identity is protected under a gag
Olmert and 15 other defendants are accused of accepting the bribes
to help advance the Holyland project despite legal, zoning and other
This was the first time Talansky had testified in court since
testifying in 2008 that Olmert had received envelopes with large amounts of cash
from him, in what is now known as the Talansky Affair.
Talansky’s testimony was the final straw that brought Olmert down as prime
minister, he was acquitted in the Talansky Affair and only convicted of the
minor crime of breach of trust in the Investment Affair.
In no small
part, Olmert was acquitted because Talansky himself was viewed by the Jerusalem
District Court as a loose cannon who, while making some truthful allegations
against the former prime minister, also seemed to change his story as time
passed, often in ways that were hard to follow.
In that vein, calling him
as a witness in the Holyland case was considered by many to be a high-stakes
move by the state, and Talansky did not disappoint, with a repeat performance of
unexpected and varying answers as well as controversial
Regarding his assistance to Yossi Olmert, Talansky said that
Ehud Olmert asked him to help, and testified, “I did not want to do it. I had
helped him [Ehud Olmert] with elections and debts, but I did not think it was
right to ask me to help with family issues, especially when his brother already
lost in the elections.”
He continued: “But Olmert said ‘please help,’”
and later Shula Zaken followed up and eventually gave him “all of the necessary
requirements for wiring money to Israel.”
Olmert’s attorney Roi Belcher
tried to press Talansky on how all of this appeared to contradict his earlier
version of events in 2008 and 2010. In 2008, he said that he did not remember
ever giving any money to Olmert’s brother Yossi, while in 2010 he said that
either Olmert had given him money to transfer as a middleman to Yossi or that he
gave the money directly to Yossi.
He had even said earlier that Olmert
would never have asked him to give money to his brother because “Olmert hated
In contrast, in court on Sunday, Talansky said he was
certain that he had paid Yossi the funds upon the request from
Talansky tried to resolve the seemingly blatant contradiction by
saying that when he was asked about it earlier by investigators, he either
thought they were asking about if he had an established pattern of giving him
money – like he said he had given Olmert.
In addition, Talansky said that
even when he was presented with the documents specifically regarding the $30,000
transfer, he was surprised and it took him time to remember the events in full
that had occurred six years earlier.
Talansky also had choice words for
The Jerusalem Post.
Asked if he would like to speak after testifying,
Talansky said absolutely not and said that the Post “destroys Israel, you’re a
rag, you and your kippa.” The reporter had not introduced or named himself at
the time, but was wearing a kippa.
Yet, in later unrelated testimony,
Talansky listed the Post along with the Jewish Week, The Forward and The New
York Times as the main four papers he reads. Curiously, he wears a kippa as
Belcher had a field day dissecting Talansky’s memory and seemingly
contradictory answers, regarding whether he had loaned Yossi money and other
factual issues. Possibly most shocking was that Talansky appeared to contradict
what the state reported his testimony would be to the defense.
witness was interviewed by the state last week and under law, the state
fulfilled its obligation to inform the defense of his new
According to Belcher, the state sent the defense a letter
indicating that Talansky did not remember any specifics regarding the Yossi
This appeared to contradict Talansky’s version of what he
had told the state a week earlier.
The state did not dispute the
contradiction and when Talansky looked over at the state in confusion, the state
attorneys did not respond.