Barak, Dichter blast PM attack on police

Defense minister stresses independence, freedom of law enforcement authorities must be preserved.

olmert barak 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
olmert barak 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter blasted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday for his blistering attack on State Attorney Moshe Lador in Friday's Hebrew press. Olmert gave lengthy interviews to three Hebrew newspapers in which he accused Lador and his office of being out to get him and passing judgment on him before he was even questioned. In the interviews, he vowed to prove his innocence against the multiple charges against him but admitted that he believed it would be very difficult after he had already been convicted in the court of public opinion. "They are subjecting me to a kangaroo court," Olmert told Haaretz. "This is the public lynching of a prime minister, via all kinds of leaks and maneuvers. And not one of the people with a conscience - the preachers, the eye-rollers and the self-righteous ones who defend the fundamentals of justice and law - is speaking out." Olmert lashed out at Lador for insisting that the key witness against the prime minister, financier Morris Talansky, give early testimony, which led to Barak's demand that Kadima replace Olmert and the initiation of Kadima's primary in mid-September. He said Lador's request was based on the false claims that Talansky would not agree to return to Israel later and that Talansky had suggested he feared that Olmert would harm him physically. The prime minister accused the police of overzealousness, citing their insistence on searching for documents in his office during the Remembrance Day siren and questioning his son Shaul the day he returned with his family from years of living in the United States. "In the police and the State Attorney's Office, they are acting like they are fighting against a demonic enemy that must be captured," Olmert told Yediot Aharonot. "I don't think there is a conspiracy but it is starting to look like one due to their lack of balance. They are furious. I see them foaming at the mouth." Barak defended the legal establishment in a speech to female Labor activists at the Labor Party's Tel Aviv headquarters. In doing so, he continued his strategy of casting Labor as the defender of the rule of law against the corruption in Kadima. "We have recently, yet again, witnessed an attack on the law enforcement authorities," Barak said. "I want to warn everyone that the State Prosecution, police and the courts are vital institutions for any democracy, and it is our utmost responsibility to preserve their independence and freedom to carry out their work." Barak's comments came the day after Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann unveiled his bill to divide the authorities of the attorney-general. While Dichter joined Barak in attacking Olmert, Friedmann reportedly refused a request from Dichter to defend law enforcement authorities. "I reject with disgust the aggressive attack in the media by the prime minister on the law enforcement authorities - the police and State Prosecution," Dichter said. "These attacks will not weaken the hands of the police and State Prosecution when carrying out their sacred work that we, including the prime minister, have tasked them with." The criticism of Olmert also came a day after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz accused the prime minister of "evading" detectives trying to schedule a fourth questioning session. Olmert responded in the interviews that he never rejected a request by police to question him, even when he was busy with matters of state. Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report