Olmert's legal battle is far from over

Acquitted in the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs, the former PM now has the Holyland trial to fight.

By
July 10, 2012 15:08
1 minute read.
Ehud Olmert rejoices following court verdict

Ehud Olmert rejoices following court verdict 370. (photo credit: Emile Solomon/ Haaretz)

 
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While former prime minister Ehud Olmert has been acquitted of two of the three charges brought against him in his Jerusalem District Court corruption trial, his legal battles are far from over.

In a completely separate trial, Olmert is also one of 16 defendants (13 individuals and three companies) charged over the Holyland affair, in which real estate developers allegedly paid tens of millions of shekels to public employees and elected officials to advance the Holyland project in Jerusalem, including by shortening planning times, smoothing over planning objections, rezoning land, granting tax breaks and increasing the permitted amount of construction.

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That trial is not the first time the former prime minister has faced criminal charges – and not the first time he has been acquitted of those charges.

In an odd twist, during his corruption trial Olmert maintained that a loan he received from another US businessman and friend, Joe Alimaliah, was to pay for his expenses in the Likud “fictitious invoices” trial in 1997.

Olmert had been charged with involvement in the case of illegal donations received by Likud from various companies during 1988. He was completely acquitted of all charges in that case.

Meanwhile, even though Olmert has been acquitted over the Rishon Tours affair, that scandal is also ongoing.

In January, the prosecution filed separate charges in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the owner of Rishon Tours, Emanuel Baumwolspiner, charging him with falsifying travel invoices and sending them to various nonprofit groups.

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That indictment alleges that Rishon Tours issued duplicate invoices for the same flight, and sent them to two or more nonprofit organizations to pay. The travel agency also allegedly quoted fictitious air ticket prices that did not tally with the price of the real air ticket as charged by the airline.

Rishon Tours allegedly transferred the fictitious invoices and receipts to Olmert’s office, who are alleged to have used them to collect funding for the former prime minister’s travel.

The indictment further alleges that Olmert, his bureau chief Shula Zaken and former foreign relations coordinator Rachel Rizby Raz presented the fake invoices to various bodies, including nonprofit organizations and even the state, with requests to pay for travel expenses, allegedly also concealing that other bodies were covering Olmert’s expenses for the same trip.

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