Former prime minister Ehud Olmert with lawyer in court 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled on Sunday that former prime minister Ehud
Olmert and State Attorney Moshe Lador will commence a three-month arbitration
process over a defamation suit Olmert brought against Lador.
arbitration process proves unsuccessful, the court will continue to hear the
defamation claim, and will rule on Lador’s request to be granted immunity from
prosecution, Judge Riva Niv said.
The parties agreed that attorney Amos
Gabrieli would act as arbitrator in the case. The arbitration process will
commence next week and is expected to last about three months.
lawsuit is based on remarks the state attorney made in a February 2011 interview
with Haaretz, which is also named as a respondent in the suit.
interview, Lador described a $75,000 loan Olmert had allegedly received from
American businessman Josef Elmaliach in 1993 as “extraordinarily scandalous,”
and claimed that Olmert had yet to return the money.
After Olmert filed
his defamation suit, the state argued that the Lador had immunity from
prosecution because he gave the Haaretz interview in his capacity as state
attorney. When the Magistrate’s Court rejected Lador’s argument, the state
attorney appealed the decision in the Tel Aviv District Court.
January, however, District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein upheld the Magistrate’s
Court ruling, saying that Lador could not be granted immunity from prosecution
simply on the grounds that he is a public servant.
Orenstein took issue
with the fact that the immunity request claims Lador had not acted maliciously
when giving the interview, and said that Deputy Attorney-General Sarit Dana, who
made the request, had never actually spoken to Lador about what his “emotional
state” had been when he gave the interview.
The judge questioned how the
court could determine whether Lador had “malicious intent” when he gave the
Following that January ruling, Dana filed an amended immunity
request to the Magistrate’s Court, and the state also filed a request to the
Supreme Court for permission to appeal.
In Sunday’s ruling, Niv noted
that this will be the second time the parties have attempted mediation; a
previous attempt before attorney Yaron Ben David, failed.