The State Attorney’s Office filed a Supreme Court appeal against the acquittals
and light sentence of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday night,
possibly putting his highly speculated political future into jeopardy.
the state wins at the Supreme Court level, Olmert could be convicted of harsher
crimes than he was at trial, and could even end up going to jail.
decision could have tremendous repercussions on the upcoming elections, which
Olmert has considered taking part in as a challenger to Prime Minister Binyamin
That said, the appeal in and of itself, does not legally
prevent Olmert from running, however more complicated it makes his political
fortunes and clouds his future in the event of additional
Although the state attorney first announced
three weeks ago
its intention to appeal the acquittals for the central corruption charges, it
did not specify, until filing the appeal, which charges it would be appealing.
the end, the appeal attacks Olmert’s acquittals for most of the main charges in
both the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs. The appeal also asks to overturn
Olmert’s acquittal on charges that he misled the state comptroller regarding
funds he received as part of the Talansky Affair.
There were some more
minor charges dropped from the appeal that had been part of the original
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:
Olmert was convicted in the Jerusalem District Court only of
the minor crime of breach of trust in the Investment Affair.
part of the appeal asks to give Olmert a harsher sentence for this
The Jerusalem District Court did not give Olmert any
community service as requested by the state, but only sentenced him to a
conditional sentence, plus a NIS 75,000 fine.
The state also appealed
former Olmert confidante Shula Zaken’s acquittals in the Rishon Tours case,
partially ending speculation that she would cooperate with the state in the
Holyland case in exchange for the state not appealing the acquittals.
state also asked that Zaken receive a harsher sentence for her convictions, for
which she had received a light sentence.
Regarding the Rishon Tours
Affair, the state said the lower court had agreed with almost all of the state’s
The state said there could be no reasonable doubt that
Olmert knowingly committed fraud, in light of the fact that the affair involved
over $90,000 in double-bookings of plane flights by his staff on his behalf, and
that he had been deeply involved in the working of his staff and written
correspondence to those non-profit institutions paying for his
Whereas the lower court found that in spite of the situation
being problematic, it still could not preclude other possibilities besides
Olmert knowing of the fraud, the state said the Supreme Court should find that
the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt had been met.
In essence, the
state said that the lower court had held it to an even higher and impossible
standard than beyond a reasonable doubt in its conclusions about the evidence,
particularly since the court found the state’s summation of the facts more
convincing than Olmert’s.
Similarly, in the Talansky Affair, the state
said the court had again entertained wildly unlikely scenarios to acquit Olmert
and to conclude that the state’s evidence did not meet the beyond a reasonable
According to the appeal, the court found that Olmert had
received huge amounts of cash, at least hundreds of thousands of dollars worth,
from American Moshe Talansky.
The state argued that Olmert’s old friend
and associate, attorney Uri Messer, held most of the funds in a secret safe, and
that the safe was secretly administered only by Zaken, making it impossible to
say that Olmert had no knowledge that he was committing fraud.
cases, the state had evidentiary problems since none of Olmert’s staff or
associates would cooperate with the state and the court considered the only
witness against him, Talansky, problematic in terms of
Whereas the court had acquitted Olmert for not reporting the
Talansky funds to the state comptroller, holding that at most Olmert had omitted
doing something he should have done – reporting the funds.
“omission” could not be construed as an affirmative act, which was required for
a conviction, the court ruled.
In the appeal, the state said the absence
of reporting of so many transfers, such a large volume of funds and of actively
hiding the funds in a secret safe, qualified as enough to sustain a
Finally, the appeal challenged the lower court’s basis for
giving Olmert a light sentence in the Investment Affair.
convicted Olmert for making decisions that helped friends and associates of his
regardless of his clear conflict of interest, but refused to give him any
community service, saying that his being toppled from the premiership and four
years fighting in court demanded a more lenient sentence.
court said his breach of public trust conviction was not a mere “technical”
error, it also noted that he had been acquitted for the Talansky Affair, the
charges which led to his downfall as prime minister.
The court viewed
this fact as being a particular injustice to Olmert.
In contrast, the
state, in its appeal, quoted the Supreme Court in its refusal to reduce former
president Moshe Katsav’s sentence for rape from seven years in prison.
that opinion, the Supreme Court says that Katsav’s very high position makes it
even more important that he receive no special leniency to emphasize that there
is one law for all.
The state noted that it recognized that the nature of
Katsav’s crimes differ significantly from Olmert’s crimes, but that like Olmert,
Katsav was also convicted of additional crimes which were not the ones that led
to him being toppled from the presidency.
Meanwhile, Olmert positioned
himself for a political comeback, slamming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in
a meeting with Jewish community leaders in New York on
Olmert’s associates have said that he will decide on his
political future following the US election, and US President Barack Obama’s
reelection is encouraging to the former prime minister. He is expected to make
an announcement soon after he returns to Israel after November
“Netanyahu’s behavior in recent months brings up the question if
Netanyahu has a friend in the White House, and I’m not sure,” Olmert
“This could be very critical in certain areas.”
criticized Netanyahu for turning Israel into a partisan issue.
minister has a right to prefer one candidate over another, but it would be
better, obviously if he kept it to himself. What took place this time was a
breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the US
elections in the name of an American billionaire,” Olmert added, in reference to
Jewish- American casino magnate and Yisrael Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson, a major
donor to Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Netanyahu.
Obama was a
friend to Israel before his reelection, and will continue to be a friend to
Israel, Olmert concluded.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>