Olmert to be grilled again next Friday

PM's adviser rejects A-G's claim Olmert evading police trying to schedule 4th questioning session.

mazuz 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
mazuz 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A few hours after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for "evading" detectives trying to schedule a fourth session of questioning, the premier's lawyers informed police that he would be available for questioning next Friday. "Olmert's lawyers have said he's available for questioning next Friday, but we are not yet sure if this is when the interrogation will take place," a National Fraud Unit spokesman said. "We'll see." However, according to various reports Friday, police had indeed agreed to question the prime minister next week. Olmert's media adviser Amir Dan on Friday morning rejected Mazuz's criticism, saying that the prime minister had always complied with all questioning requests. "We would be pleased if with the same efficiency, and instead of wasting time, Mazuz would order an inquiry on the routine testimony leaks," he added. Nevertheless, until Thursday, all efforts by the National Fraud Unit to schedule another interrogation session had been met with failure. Police would like to question the prime minister about the cash-filled envelopes he allegedly received from Long Island businessman Morris Talansky, and the "Olmert-tours" investigation, in which he is suspected of double-billing several charities and a government ministry for travel arrangements, and using the excess to pay for personal family travels. On Thursday, as part of his response to a High Court petition demanding Olmert's suspension, Mazuz wrote, "Police are facing significant obstacles in attempting to set a date for questioning the prime minister, as well as setting the number of hours the session should last. These are difficulties that the police has not faced in interrogations with other public officials, including previous prime ministers." Police have cited difficulties in arranging another session since the start of the Talansky investigation, which some former senior officers say are deliberate efforts on the part of Olmert to delay the investigation. Meanwhile, Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi told Israel Radio on Friday morning that Olmert was very angry and felt frustrated and helpless because he believed he wasn't being given the opportunity to prove his innocence due to the persistent leaks. Regarding Mazuz's criticism, Hanegbi urged police and the Prime Minister's Office to reach an agreement over the interrogation sessions and not to argue in public over the timetable.