Mazuz: Olmert indictment decision soon

A-G's aide says since former PM canceled pre-trial hearings, prosecution will now act without delay.

olmert worried 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
olmert worried 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has notified former prime minister Ehud Olmert's lawyers that he will soon make a decision on whether to try the former prime minister in the 'Rishon Tours,' 'Cash Envelopes' and 'Investment Center' affairs. In a letter to Olmert's attorneys, Mazuz's senior aide, attorney Raz Nizri, wrote that he could not understand why they had decided against pre-trial hearings in the cases, and that the prosecution would now act without delay in completing proceedings. Olmert's attorneys made the decision last week, saying that the attorney-general had already made up his mind to indict the former premier. According to the lawyers, by deciding to press charges against Rachel Raz-Risby, Olmert's former travel adviser, for her involvement in the Rishon Tours affair, Mazuz had proven that his mind was already made up concerning the former premier's guilt. Last week, Mazuz rejected outright a request by Olmert's lawyers to appoint a retired judge to conduct a hearing for their client instead of Mazuz himself, and said that it was just another attempt to stall for time. Nizri said in the letter that the cancelation of the session scheduled for the end of the month meant that Olmert's team had effectively relinquished their right to a hearing and that their push for an external hearing was an "invalid" and "obvious" attempt to delay proceedings. Nizri stressed that had Olmert and his attorneys attended the hearing, their claims would have been seriously considered. In response, Olmert's media adviser Amir Dan said that the prosecution's "word games" did not change the fact that Olmert didn't have a fair chance, and that it "is no surprise that the chief prosecutor doesn't have the courage to admit it." In the Rishon Tours case, Olmert is suspected of having double-billed non-profit organizations for trips he made abroad to raise money for them. When he spoke on behalf of two or three different non-profit organizations on the same trip, he allegedly charged each of them the full flight fare. According to the allegations, the extra money went into a special account managed by Rishon Tours, his travel agency, and was used to pay for private trips made by him and his family. Police estimate that he collected $110,000 in this way. Currently, almost no money remains in the account. According to the Cash Envelopes affair allegations, American-Jewish businessman Morris Talansky gave Olmert $150,000 in cash over a 10-year period, allegedly to help him in four election campaigns, including two for mayor of Jerusalem and two Likud primaries. In addition, Talansky allegedly gave Olmert tens of thousands of dollars contributed by American Jews who attended campaign dinners for various Israeli and American Jewish philanthropic organizations. In the Investment Center scandal, Olmert is suspected of a conflict of interest because he participated in applications for government grants made by the clients of his close friend and former law partner Uri Messer.