Olmert calls prosecution's questioning 'a ploy'

After first day of cross examination, former PM is questioned about accusations he solicited funds from US businessman Talansky.

By JOANNA PARASCZCUK
July 4, 2011 19:16
2 minute read.
Former PM Ehud Olmert in court [file photo]

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert with lawyer in court 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Deputy State Attorney Uri Korb began his cross-examination of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday in the Jerusalem District Court.

At this stage of the trial, Olmert is required to answer questions on excerpts from his interrogation, testimonies by other witnesses and on documents indicating his alleged involvement in the various corruption affairs to which he is linked.

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During Monday’s crossexamination, Korb said Olmert knew American businessman Moshe Talansky had donated $300,000 to cover the debt of the group that supported his campaign to become Jerusalem’s mayor in 1998 and was headed by Olmert’s former campaign manager Uri Messer.

In his earlier testimony, Olmert denied asking Messer to solicit funds from Talansky to pay a NIS 2 million debt the campaign accumulated.

Olmert said on Monday that he only knew the money was paid by a client of Messer’s around 2002, long after the Jerusalem municipal elections took place.

However, Korb read to Olmert excerpts from Messer’s testimony, which said, “the fact that Talansky was the person who had given the loan was known. Our debate had been the question of who should pay it back.”

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Olmert called Korb’s line of questioning “a ploy,” adding that “nobody will succeed in causing a rift between myself and Messer.”

Amir Dan, Olmert’s spokesman, later slammed the state’s questioning, saying that the prosecution is not interested in the real picture.

“Today the prosecution asked Olmert the same question hundreds of times and they got the same answer repeatedly,” Dan told The Jerusalem Post.

“There are accusations and facts. They can keep asking the same questions and getting the same answers. All I can say is it’s a pity these accusations were filed in the court in the first place.”

After the court hearings this week and next week, Olmert’s cross-examination will resume in September following the court’s August recess.

Over a series of 13 sessions that continued until last week, Olmert has had the opportunity to give his primary testimony, telling his version of the charges, guided by his lawyers.

During his initial questioning in court, Olmert denied allegations that he received cash envelopes from Talansky which he attempted to hide, as well as allegations that he double- billed his trips abroad during his political terms.

About the Talansky affair, he said last month, “This whole story about loans is a fantasy for which I have no explanation.”

Regarding the Rishon Tours double-billing affair, Olmert also testified, “I never knew that there were excesses of flight funds. I never instructed my staff to do anything of the sort that is described. The prosecution created a monster so they could charge me.”

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