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(photo credit: Channel 10 )
Police investigators took advantage of attorney Uri Messer’s mental state to
bully and threaten him into falsely admitting he was safeguarding illegal funds
that former prime minister Ehud Olmert had received from US businessman Moshe
Talansky, Olmert’s lawyer charged in the Jerusalem District Court this
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During the hearing, attorney Nevot Tel-Tzur asked police
investigator Ch.-Supt. Lior Reiss whether he knew that Messer had tried to
commit suicide while under investigation in the Investment Center affair. Reiss
replied that he had heard rumors to that effect, but did not know if they were
Tel-Tzur also accused Reiss, who was a member of the police team
appointed to investigate the Talansky affair, of refusing to postpone the
investigation even though he had been aware of Messer’s mental
Monday’s hearing was the first after proceedings were suspended
for six weeks because of the prosecutors’ strike.
Messer, who was a close
friend of Olmert for many years, is one of the key witnesses for the prosecution
in the state’s charges regarding the Talansky and Investment Center affairs –
namely that the former prime minister obtained something by deceit in aggravated
circumstances and committed fraud and breach of trust.
has not yet testified in court, he is believed to have told police that Olmert’s
bureau chief, Shula Zaken, handed over to him for safekeeping large sums of
money that Talansky had given her boss. Messer reportedly kept the money in a
safe, first in his office and later in a bank.
cross-examination, Tel- Tzur charged that Reiss and the other police
investigators had frightened and bullied Messer into making the allegedly false
accusation against Olmert. According to the transcript of Messer’s
interrogation, which Tel- Tzur read aloud in the courtroom, Reiss and the other
investigators repeatedly asked Messer whether he knew where the money had come
from, and he repeatedly said, “No.”
The policemen yelled at Messer and
threatened to set up face-to-face confrontations with Talansky and Olmert,
“You knew Messer was afraid of this,” he told
In order to put a stop to the pressure, Messer began to
“negotiate” with the investigators, Tel-Tzur continued, quoting the following
question that Messer had asked as proof that he wanted to satisfy the police so
they would leave him alone.
“Will you be satisfied if I say that from
conversations with Talansky, I was able to understand that money he gave to
Shula was given to me to hold?” Messer was quoted as asking
Tel-Tzur also accused Reiss of using “interrogation tricks” to
frighten Messer into making statements that were not true. For example, the
investigators told Messer that Talansky had already admitted that he had given
Zaken money that was transmitted to him. In truth, continued Tel-Tzur, Talansky
had not told police this until after this meeting between Messer and the
investigation team. In another case, the interrogators promised Messer that what
he was about to tell them would be off the record, when in fact, the entire
interrogation was being taped.
“Do you think this was proper?” Tel-Tzur
Reiss replied that these were standard interrogation
“Everything we did was legitimate,” he told Olmert’s
Tel-Tzur also charged that at the beginning of at least two
interrogations in May, the police had asked Messer how he was feeling, a clear
indication that they knew he was unwell. However, they did not consider
postponing the interrogation.
During the fourth interrogation on May 19,
Tel-Tzur added, the police began to pressure Messer into telling them he knew
the money given him by Zaken belonged to Olmert.