Leaders laud, berate Olmert on mixed verdict

Kadima, Shas congratulates former PM on acquittal of main charges; Yechimovich, Ariel, Gal-On condemn Olmert over breach of trust.

July 10, 2012 11:03
2 minute read.
FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Officials from all sides of the political spectrum reacted swiftly to the Jerusalem District Court's verdict Tuesday which acquitted former prime minister Ehud Olmert of two central corruption charges against him but convicted him of breach of trust on a third charge.

The three main charges of corruption were dubbed the Rishon Tours affair, the Talansky or cash envelopes affair and the Investment Center affair. He was pronounced guilty on the latter charge.

Vice Premier and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz on behalf of his party - which Olmert formerly led - welcomed the verdict. He congratulated Olmert over the acquittals and praised him for his past achievements as Kadima leader and prime minister.

Opposition head Shelly Yechimovich congratulated the state prosecution
for charging Olmert "the judicial system acted appropriately, with courage, and without bias."

"Harming the state prosecution could have grave consequences on the justice system. For the first time ever in Israel, a prime minister was convicted of breach of trust," she said, adding that "all relevant authorities must continue to act independently of politics and economics, and must not distinguish between regular civilians and politicians."

The Shas party warmly congratulated Olmert extending its support to the former prime minister and his family "after undergoing great suffering in recent years."

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) expressed hope that the verdict would spell a return to the realm of politics for Olmert. "I am happy that Olmert won his case," he said. "There is no doubt that a major injustice was committed against one of Israel's best prime ministers... The prosecution must reevaluate its relevance in Israeli society after ejecting a prime minister from his post for no reason at all."

Meanwhile, Knesset State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) said that the guilty verdict was a "black stain" for the state of Israel. "The conviction of a former prime minister of breach of trust, is a difficult day, a black stain in a severe crisis of public confidence in their leadership and elected officials," said Ariel.

Expressing a similar sentiment, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On said: "The fact that Olmert was found guilty of breach of trust is extremely severe, and the verdict should spell the end of his political career."

"The verdict underscores the need to continue to defend the independence of the law enforcement and court systems in Israel," she added.

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