Former prime minister Ehud Olmert has followed through on his threat to sue
State Attorney Moshe Lador over things Lador said about him in an interview
published in Haaretz.
On Thursday, Olmert’s lawyers filed a defamation
lawsuit against Lador and Haaretz at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, asking for
NIS 150,000 in damages.
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The State Attorney’s Office called the lawsuit
Olmert said that Lador ruined his reputation when Lador
described a $75,000 loan Olmert had received from American businessman Josef
Elmaliach in 1993 as “extraordinarily scandalous,” and claimed that Olmert had
yet to return the money.
“Mr. Lador’s extensive references to an ongoing
proceeding in Mr. Olmert’s affairs and another ongoing investigation, which is
awaiting Lador’s decision [the Holyland Affair], combined with what he said
about the loan Mr. Olmert received from Mr.
Elmaliach, severely violated
Mr. Olmert’s basic rights as a suspect and an accused party, and defamed him,”
the lawsuit reads. “The right of suspects to due process is a basic right, an
indivisible part of their right to dignity and freedom.”
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attacked Lador and his handling of the matter, but also hurled severe criticism
against the entire prosecution system.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to
Mr. Olmert, the state attorney has long ago crossed all definitions and
restrictions. Yesterday’s wrongs have become right.
What was once
inappropriate is now appropriate. On the other hand, any professional and
legitimate criticism of the state attorney’s conduct is immediately presented by
him as a battle of light against darkness. This is not the conduct of a properly
run prosecution system,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit went on to describe
the conditions of the loan and Olmert’s practice over the years of reporting on
it to both the State Comptrollers Office and in annual conflictof- interest
Olmert’s lawyers also wrote that the loan was not part of a
financial fraud investigation into Olmert’s affairs conducted by the state
comptroller and that Elmaliach had never been questioned by the police about the
“The harm to Mr. Olmert’s basic rights as a suspect and an accused
were expressed in two ways,” his lawyers wrote: “Firstly, Mr. Lador conducted an
interview about a standing procedure, knowing full well that the interview and
its echoes will reach the ears of the lawyers hearing Mr.
and that there is a probable possibility that they will affect the
“Secondly, Mr. Lador was interviewed about the ‘Holyland affair,’
an investigation that is waiting on his desk for a decision, and doing so,
compromised his own discretion and added an improper consideration to his
reckoning in the matter.”
The lawyers said it would be impossible for
Lador to take back the things he said in the interview when deciding on how to
proceed in the case. In the interview, Lador described the Holyland affair as
the biggest corruption case in the state’s history.
asked that the court find Lador and Haaretz
guilty of wrongdoing and order them
to compensate Olmert with NIS 25,000 for injuring his right to a fair trial, NIS
25,000 for violating a statutory duty and NIS 100,000 for defamation.
money, the lawyers said, would be donated to the Bialik-Rogozin School in south
The lawyers also asked that the court order a printed
retraction of the story and the payment of Olmert’s lawyers’ fees.
Sunday, before filing the lawsuit, Olmert gave Lador and Haaretz
48 hours to
issue an apology.
Lador did not apologize, but on Monday, the State
Attorney’s Office issued a response, saying that the fact that the loan was
repaid was unknown to Lador, and pointing out that the said loan was not
included in the fraud charges filed against the ex-prime minister. The response
also defended Lador’s right to pass judgment on the notion that a public
official held on to an undocumented $75,000 “loaned” to him by a businessman for
The response also stated that the state was not aware that
Olmert had paid back a second loan of $100,000 from the same source, which
Olmert had neglected to disclose to the state comptroller.
In response to
the lawsuit filed on Thursday, the State Attorney’s Office wrote, “This is a
frivolous lawsuit filed for public relations purposes and proves once again the
attempt to bully into submission any element that handles Mr. Olmert’s affairs,
whether by complaints to the Bar Association, complaints to the
attorney-general, attacks on the state comptroller and now a civil
lawsuit.The prosecution will respond to the lawsuit in detail in court.”
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