Justice Ministry: Is Talansky going to complete his testimony?

The Justice Ministry fired off a threatening letter on Thursday to Morris Talansky's Israeli attorney, Jacques Chen, demanding a final answer on when - or even whether - the New York businessman and fund-raiser will return to Israel as he promised to complete his testimony in the "cash envelopes" affair. On March 1, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced that he planned to indict Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on a series of charges related to the large amounts of cash he allegedly accepted from Talansky and others. The letter sent to Chen came in response to one submitted by the Tel Aviv-based attorney earlier this week. "As you know, Mr. Talansky committed in court to come to Israel to complete his testimony, without any additional conditions," wrote Ori Krov of the Jerusalem District Attorney's office. "If Mr. Talansky had placed conditions last summer on his return to continue his testimony, it is likely that he would have been detained in Israel until he had completed his testimony and would not have been allowed to leave Israel for a place where we cannot enforce his appearance before the court." "We further remind you that Mr. Talansky left certain guarantees to ensure his return to continue his testimony - guarantees that at this stage have yet to be enforced," attorney Krov continued. Justice Ministry officials said Thursday that in his letter, Chen had suggested that Talansky return from the US to complete his testimony only after Olmert completed his pre-indictment hearing before Mazuz. Krov rejected the proposal, arguing that Talansky's testimony should not be tied to the rest of the proceedings against the prime minister. "We reiterate that we expect that Mr. Talansky will co-ordinate with us regarding his return to Israel without any further delay," wrote Krov, adding that the Justice Department "requests that you return an answer regarding Mr. Talansky's decision in the next two weeks, so that we can weigh our steps in accordance." It was not immediately clear whether Talansky would return to Israel from New York despite the government's threats to begin seizure proceedings on his home in Jerusalem. His US lawyer, Bradley Simon, told The Jerusalem Post he had not yet spoken with Talansky about the letter, and declined to comment further. Allison Hoffman in New York contributed to this report.