Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves Tel Aviv District Court May 13, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The state, by special motion of State Attorney Shai Nitzan, on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to remand the Talansky Affair allegations against former prime minister Ehud Olmert to the Jerusalem District Court for a partial retrial.
The move has been expected since the state struck a plea bargain deal with Olmert’s former chief of staff Shula Zaken, but was still a highly dramatic development in his continuing legal battles.
In the worst scenario for Olmert, it could lead to a reversal of his acquittal in that case, a new conviction and more jail time on top of the six-year prison sentence he has received on bribery convictions in the separate Holyland Affair in the Tel Aviv District Court.
The Talansky Affair allegedly involved Olmert receiving large amounts of cash in envelopes from New York businessman Morris Talansky, not reporting them to the state comptroller, hiding them in his confidante Uri Messer’s secret safe and some of the money disappearing.
The state said the Jerusalem District Court should hear new evidence from Zaken to introduce two cassette tapes and her journal into evidence.
Its request indicated that the tapes, from May 2011 (just before Olmert started to testify on the Talansky Affair) and October 2012 (three months after the court acquitted him in the case) show that Olmert used illegal means to pressure Zaken into refusing to testify and refusing to cooperate with the state.
Those means allegedly included a variety of pressures and offering to get her legal expenses paid for her by associates.
Zaken’s journal could be a crucial piece of proof against Olmert, and the court had refused to review her journal’s contents since at that time she would not testify.
Notably, the state did not ask to reopen evidence in the Rishon Tours Affair, involving alleged Olmert double-billing for reimbursement travel expenses and for which Olmert was also acquitted by the Jerusalem District Court in July 2012.
The state said it still believed that acquittal could be reversed on the record already before the Supreme Court.
It advised the Supreme Court that no decision has yet been made on whether to file a new indictment against Olmert for alleged witness tampering and obstruction of justice regarding Zaken.