Petitioner: PM too busy briefing reporters to be questioned

Olmert's communications adviser to 'Post': Olmert set date for interrogation as soon as Talansky cross-examination ended.

Olmert cabinet frowns 22 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Olmert cabinet frowns 22
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Yoav Yitzhak, head of the News First Class Web site, charged Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had enough time to devote half a day to briefing political reporters but not enough time to answer police questions. In a brief to the High Court of Justice, Yitzhak called on the justices to order Olmert to hand over his diary for the month of July so the court could see how full it was of matters relating to his position. Yitzhak's brief followed a petition he filed on July 13 demanding that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz suspend the prime minister for a set period and enable police to question him regarding all the investigations underway against him. Yitzhak also asked the court to order Olmert to show up for questioning by detectives at short notice and for as long as police wanted. In two of the three interrogations conducted since May, Olmert has dictated the amount of time he would allocate to police. "The petitioner asks the court to order Olmert to hand over a copy of his diary for July 2008 so that it can see for itself, over and above the affidavit signed by the petitioner corroborating the allegations in the petition, that we are dealing with a problematic and shameless person who is evading - as simple as that - justice and putting himself above the law," Yitzhak said. He said that on Thursday Olmert devoted at least half a day to brief Shimon Shiffer (Yediot Aharonot), Ben Caspit (Ma'ariv) and Yossi Verter (Haaretz). Yitzhak said that during the interviews, the prime minister incited the reporters against the law enforcement authorities, particularly Mazuz, State Attorney Moshe Lador and the police investigating teams, and had illegally divulged information about the investigation. According to Yitzhak, the head of the National Unit for Fraud Investigations, Dep.-Cmdr. Shlomi Ayalon, wrote to Olmert's lawyers three different times this month asking to urgently set dates for further questioning. "In these letters," wrote Yitzhak, "Ayalon repeatedly emphasized that the needs of the investigation require that he be questioned as soon as possible. The letters were sent on July 14, 20 and 22." The prime minister's lawyers did not reply to any of the letters, Yitzhak said. "Only on July 24, just before the attorney-general submitted his response to our petition to the court, did Olmert agree to be questioned at a relatively far-off date (only on August 1) and even then, only for two hours," he said. Olmert, continued Yitzhak, explained that he couldn't meet before then because he was so busy conducting the affairs of state. "But a close look at things shows that Olmert, like Olmert, is brazenly lying," he wrote. The state replied to the petition on Thursday and acknowledged that "the police have run into not insignificant difficulties in setting dates to investigate the prime minister as well as deciding where the investigations will be held. The police have not run into such difficulties in the past when investigating public figures, including previous prime ministers." Olmert's communications adviser, Amir Dan, told The Jerusalem Post that in response to Ayalon's letters, the prime minister's lawyers had said they would set a date for the interrogation as soon as the Morris Talansky cross-examination ended. That examination ended late Tuesday afternoon and a date was set on Thursday for Olmert to be questioned at the end of this week. Regarding the assertion that Olmert had time to brief reporters but not to meet with police, Dan said a great deal of information from the investigation had been leaked to the press over the past few weeks. If those who were leaking the material would stop doing so, the prime minister would not have to speak to reporters to respond to the unchallenged allegations included in the leaked material, Dan said.