Israel to assist Talansky in US troubles

State will ask US authorities not to use financier's testimony in Israel against him in their probe.

talansky court 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
talansky court 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The state prosecution on Thursday announced it would ask US authorities to declare that they would not use Morris Talansky's testimony in Israel to pursue legal action against him. The announcement came at the end of a meeting between Talansky's lawyers, Jaques Chen and Yehoshua Reznik, and State Attorney Moshe Lador and Jerusalem District Attorney (Criminal) Eli Abarbanel. Talansky's lawyers called for the meeting after their client's attorneys in the US, Bradley Simon and Neal Sher, informed them that on their advice, Talansky would not return to Israel as scheduled to complete his pre-trial cross-examination. Talansky was due to be questioned by the lawyers representing potential defendants Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his close aide, Shula Zaken, on August 31 and September 1. Simon and Sher informed Chen and Reznik that a grand jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York was investigating Talansky on suspicions involving some of the statements he had made to Jerusalem District Court during his testimony. So far, Talansky has been questioned for one day by the state and five days by Olmert's and Zaken's lawyers. During Thursday's meeting, Chen and Reznik reminded Lador that he had promised Talansky he would not suffer personally from the testimony he would be giving. They also asked the state attorney to declare that Talansky was no longer considered a suspect in the affair, in which he is alleged to have given Olmert cash gifts amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to a statement released by the Justice Ministry Thursday evening, Lador told Chen and Reznik that his promise that Talansky would not be harmed referred to the witness's legal situation in Israel. "The possibility of responding affirmatively to Talansky's lawyers' request that he be guaranteed that the rest of his testimony will not be used as evidence against him in the US is not, as we know, within the authority of the Israeli state prosecution," Lador told the lawyers. Nevertheless, "under the circumstances described by Talansky's lawyers, the state prosecution will, today or tomorrow, appeal to the US authorities to agree, as much as possible, to give a similar promise regarding legal procedures in the US," Lador continued. He said the Israeli request would also apply to the testimony Talansky has given in court up until now. Lador added that the state could not declare at this time that Talansky was not a suspect in the case. "We cannot make a decision regarding the allegations against Talansky (or others) before completing the investigation and only within the context of all the decisions that will be made regarding this affair," he said. The state attorney emphasized that Talansky had promised to return to Israel to complete his testimony. Therefore, "unconnected to any appeal to US authorities as mentioned above, or their reply, Talansky is expected as a matter of fact to honor his commitment and return to Israel at the end of the month to complete his testimony," said Lador. Neither Chen nor Reznik were available to take telephone calls from The Jerusalem Post.