PM lawyers to decide on early testimony

Olmert's attorney to Post: Talanksy's cross- examination could take place in less than 2 weeks.

zohar olmert lawyer 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
zohar olmert lawyer 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's lawyers will decide within a day or two whether or not to ask that the date of state witness Morris Talansky's cross-examination be advanced, Ron Shapira, one of the attorneys, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. If, as seems likely, the lawyers ask that the cross-examination be advanced, and if Talansky is cooperative, the cross-examination could take place in less than two weeks, when the state's star witness is due to be in Israel for the wedding of a grandchild on June 11. Currently, he is scheduled to be here for one day only. Shapira added that the lawyers will require two days in court to complete their cross-examination. Shapira said Olmert and the lawyers were confronted with a "clash between the legal and public elements of the case." From a clearly legal point of view, there was no question that the lawyers needed more time to properly prepare for the cross-examination, he said. If the hearing takes place in June, "we will have to question Talansky without having read all the material." The investigation material handed over to Olmert's lawyers fills 35 files. At the moment, each of the lawyers in the team, Eli Zohar, Nevot Tel-Tzur, Shapira and Ro'i Blecher, is reading over all of that material, given to them by the state. Later, as the date of the cross-examination approaches, each will take responsibility for certain portions of the case. Shapira told the Post he had, so far, finished reading the testimony of the witnesses questioned by police. The material also includes separate files on each of Olmert's trips, including details such as who paid for the hotel room and who paid for the upgrades. Olmert asked his lawyers to consider advancing the date of the cross-examination because of the furious reaction in the media and public to the information Talansky gave in his testimony last week when questioned by the prosecution. "The media campaign has been massive," said Shapira. He said the lawyers were not caught off guard by the public reaction to the testimony, in which Talansky described how he had brought envelopes stuffed with cash to Olmert's hotel room in New York, or envelopes to Shula Zaken at the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Jerusalem. "We knew the essence of Talansky's testimony beforehand," Shapira said. "It's easy to explain in legal terms but hard to explain to the public that if a politician takes money, it does not necessarily mean he is committing a crime. Election evenings with envelopes for contributions are commonplace. "It is the only practice that sustains political life," he continued. "Otherwise, only millionaires could run for office." Shapira added that "the public does not always understand the purpose of cross-examination and accepted Talansky's testimony during the state's questioning at face value. The aim of the cross-examination is not necessarily to discredit the witness or demonstrate that he is a liar but to go over every single detail of his testimony in order to give it a proper explanation." In the end, he added, Olmert will make the final decision on whether or not the lawyers ask the court to advance the date of the cross-examination. "We understand the law but he understands politics," said Shapira.