A special Justice Ministry committee has approved in principle state funding to help Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pay legal fees that have accrued in connection with his investigation by the Winograd Committee on the Second Lebanon War, Justice Ministry director-general Moshe Shilo said on Tuesday.
Olmert is the only person who has testified before the panel and could be hurt by its findings who has applied for such aid.
Shilo heads the committee on the state's participation in the defense costs of civil servants. It deals with requests to cover court costs and lawyers' fees involving criminal or disciplinary hearings, commissions of inquiry, High Court of Justice petitions, and criminal investigations. To be eligible for aid, the legal proceedings must relate to actions carried out by the civil servant in the line of duty.
The committee includes the Justice Ministry director-general, a representative of the public, and the legal adviser of the ministry that employs the applicant.
Shilo made clear that the committee approved in principle Olmert's request for financial aid only with regard to his defense before the Winograd Committee, and not for the criminal investigation into the allegations that he interfered with the tender for the state's controlling shares in Bank Leumi.
Shilo added that the panel had yet to decide how much money to give to Olmert.
Also on Tuesday, the Justice Ministry director-general said there were five candidates so far to replace State Attorney Eran Shendar, who is due to retire as soon as a replacement is found. Shilo is a member of the search committee, which is headed by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz. The committee has not announced the candidates' names. It is empowered to come up with its own recommendations and will likely recommend additional candidates, beyond the five.
There has been much speculation on the identities of the candidates nominated so far. Four of the names being mentioned are Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan, Jerusalem District Attorney (Criminal) Eli Abarbanel, Assistant State Attorney for Criminal Affairs Yehoshua Lemberger and the head of the Police Investigations Department, Cmdr. Yohanan Danino.
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