Former prime minister Ehud Olmert 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday refused a request by State
Prosecutor Moshe Lador to claim immunity against a slander lawsuit filed by
former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The state argued that Lador had
immunity because of his role as a public official, and could therefore not be
sued in the civil suit, which the former prime minister attempted to do earlier
this year after Lador gave an interview to the Hebrew language daily Haaretz.
The newspaper is also named in Olmert’s suit.
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Judge Riva Niv criticized
Lador for agreeing to the interview with Haaretz.
The judge said that the
state prosecutor, as a senior Justice Ministry employee, could have “undermined
public confidence both in the legal system and in law enforcement and
prosecution authorities” by giving an interview on matters not being discussed
Judge Niv added that the court has “already expressed its
negative opinion of transferring judicial proceedings to the journalistic
“What is said in an interview by the state prosecutor is
understood by the public as having been thoroughly checked,” the judge
In the interview, which Lador gave during the investigation into
Olmert’s alleged involvement in the so-called Holyland Affair, the state
prosecutor made references to the former prime minister’s ongoing corruption
Olmert has claimed in his libel suit that in so doing, Lador
attempted to influence the ongoing trial against him, and has accused the state
prosecutor of defamation, breach of statutory duty and constitutional
The former prime minister’s defense attorney, Eli Zohar, had argued
that Lador’s request for immunity was “unreasonable” because in the Haaretz
interview the state prosecutor touched on allegations for which Olmert is not
being investigated or tried.
Judge Niv also said that the claim of breach
of statutory duty “applies to [Lador] with greater force.”
attorney’s office requested Lador be granted immunity after the state prosecutor
failed in an attempt to have the court delete the lawsuit.
prosecution is granted to public servants in certain cases. However, the court
ruled that Lador’s Haaretz
interview was “irregular” and did not merit
“I accept [Olmert’s] position that the irregularity of the
interview removes it from the scope of [Lador’s] regular duties,” said the
Later on Wednesday, the state announced its intention to appeal
the court’s decision in the District Court.
The Justice Ministry said in
a statement that public officials cannot be tried personally for official acts
carried out in the line of government duty.
The Deputy Attorney General,
Sarit Dana, had decided on these grounds that Lador was immune from personal
tort suits for his remarks in the Haaretz
interview, the ministry spokesman
According to the Justice Ministry, that decision was made on the
grounds of public interest in the matters dealt with by the state attorney’s
“The state prosecutor’s interview with Haaretz
was an inseparable
element of his role and was intended to promote the public’s interest and its
trust in the state attorney’s office,” the Justice Ministry said.
court’s decision to deny Lador immunity in the former prime minister’s civil
suit comes as Olmert’s corruption trial enters its final stages in Jerusalem
The former prime minister is being tried alongside his
former aide, Shula Zaken, on multiple charges of corruption and breach of
The prosecution has been asked to submit its written arguments in
the case by mid- December, after which the former prime minister’s defense team
will be permitted to submit their own arguments.
Olmert denies all the
charges against him in the corruption lawsuit.