After Olmert visited by 37 lawyers, prison service to change rules

Israel Prison Services Spokesman Assaf Librati told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the IPS caught wind of the "illogical" number of lawyer visits Olmert had from lawyers.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Prisons Service announced Sunday that it would change its rules about visits from attorneys after former prime minister Ehud Olmert apparently got caught using “attorney- client privilege” as an excuse to have many friends with law degrees visit him in Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle, where he is serving a prison sentence of at least 19 months for bribery.
Spokesman Assaf Librati told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the Prisons Service caught wind of the “illogical” number of lawyer visits only after Channel 2 and then other media outlets contacted them asking for details. He confirmed that Olmert had received visits from 37 different lawyers or law offices purporting to represent him and that “while this may be legal, it isn’t logical.” He added that “in prison, the basic approach is that a prisoner must act like a prisoner, and this diverged from that.”
Librati said that following a decision by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan they are implementing procedures that would limit the number of visits to a maximum of three by separate lawyers or law offices in the same week, and that they have to show power of attorney for the inmate. He said they were also weighing a requirement that the lawyers show receipts indicating the prisoner has paid for their services.
The meetings will be limited to around an hour, Librati said, adding that the Prisons Service has not had a previous case in which a prisoner had met with this many lawyers in such a short period of time.
One of the lawyers who has visited Olmert multiple times is his close personal friend and former justice minister, Haim Ramon. Asked by Army Radio what legal advice he gives Olmert, Ramon said he could not say due to “attorney client privilege.”
“There is no legal problem with it,” said Ramon, who has received power of attorney from Olmert.
Ramon accused Erdan of leaking the story in order to distract the public from the so-called Bibi Tours scandal over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trips abroad. Erdan said it was important that there not be a double-standard.
“Without mentioning names, it is clear that if a prisoner was visited by close to 40 lawyers, it makes a mockery of the prison system,” Erdan said. “It is misuse of the law.”
The Israel Bar Association complained on Sunday about the amended Prison Service rules for visiting lawyers, saying that they would harm the work of lawyers in the country.
Olmert will be eligible for his first home furlough from prison next month. In February, he started serving his 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice. Olmert is the first Israeli premier to be imprisoned.