Prosecutors confident on first day of testimony in former PM's trial.
By DAN IZENBERG, JPOST.COM STAFF
Prosecutors expressed confidence that they had incriminating evidence against Ehud Olmert during the first day of testimony in the trial of the former prime minister in the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday.“Prosecutors have documents that testify to Ehud Olmert’s involvement in double billing for flight tickets in the Rishon Tours affair,” said Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel.“The accused has claimed that he did not know what was going on and that he didn’t get into the details,” he said. “We’ll see that his memory is actually very good, way above average.”Related: Justice Ministry hopes Korb can return to courtroom Olmert’s lawyer Eli Zohar said that prosecutors should know that the proofs they claimed to have were inadequate.“It’s hard to deal with the difficult feeling and imbalance between the scale of the investigation on the one hand and the [low] level of the accusations that we are left with on the other,” he said.Concerning the Talansky cash envelopes case, the chief state prosecutor said Morris Talansky is "a businessman who gave Olmert a significant amount of money.”AdvertisementAbarbanel added that Talansky’s testimony was “not without problems.“Not a crumb of his word has been proven,” he said. “Talansky has no interest in harming Olmert, he’s not a dreamer.”Olmert’s trial involves several affairs, including the Rishon Tours case, contributions and payments to Olmert from or through the mediation of New York businessman Talansky, Olmert’s intervention in grant applications to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Investment Center by businessmen represented by his close friend, attorney Uri Messer, and charges that he gave false information to the state comptroller in connection with a loan he received from US businessman Joe Elmaliach and regarding the true value of his pen collection.Upon entering the courtroom, Olmert insisted he was an innocent man."I come here today as an innocent man and I believe I will leave as an innocent man," Olmert told reporters. "I am sure that the outcome of this process will validate what I told you from the start."Olmert's former aide Shula Zaken was also on trial Thursday. She is also charged in connection with the Rishon Tours and Talansky investigations, and is charged separately with eavesdropping on Olmert’s conversations.The state has asked 10 witnesses to be available on the first day of questioning – four police investigators, three people employed in the computer unit of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and three women who were employed in Olmert’s bureau.Ovad Yehezkel, who was cabinet secretary under Olmert, was the first prominent figure to take the witness stand. He is No. 15 on the list of witnesses who were due to be called to the stand.Olmert is represented by a battery of four lawyers – chief counsel Zohar, Ro’i Blecher, an attorney in his office, Nevot Tel-Tzur, a partner in the office of attorney Ram Caspi, and Navit Negev, who replaced Yehuda Weinstein after he was appointed attorney-general.According to Olmert’s spokesman, Amir Dan, the division of labor between the attorneys is somewhat vague. Zohar, Blecher and Tel-Tzur are all involved in defending Olmert against the charges regarding Talansky and the Investment Center.The only clear-cut division involves Negev, who is responsible for the Rishon Tours case, which some observers consider the most damaging of the charges against the former prime minister.
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