PM to be grilled again in Talansky case

Fraud unit to present "new evidence" on Friday; Talansky "ready" for cross-examination, says lawyer.

olmert talansky 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
olmert talansky 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be confronted with "new evidence" by detectives from the National Fraud Unit, who will question him for a third time at his Jerusalem residence on Friday morning, a police spokeswoman said Tuesday. Some of the fresh case material could derive from the findings of a police delegation currently visiting the United States to pursue lines of inquiry in the case, the spokeswoman said, but she added that "that's not the only place new evidence could come from." Police investigators Lior Weiss and Tzahi Havkin from the Fraud Unit have visited New York, Washington and Las Vegas, where they interviewed witnesses and examined bank documents over the past several days. They have not yet returned to Israel, police said. The detectives are gathering evidence in the US to corroborate the testimony of New York businessman Morris Talansky and provide state prosecutors with the materials needed to go to trial, such bank transfers and account withdrawals. Police launched a criminal investigation against Olmert two months ago after learning that New York businessman Morris Talansky allegedly provided Olmert with envelopes stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 15-year period. Talansky gave Olmert $150,000 of his own money and hundreds of thousands of dollars from other, unnamed American Jewish donors, according to Talansky's preliminary testimony in May. "As on previous occasions, the prime minister will fully cooperate with investigators," Amir Dan, Olmert's newly hired PR representative, said on Tuesday, adding that "this [meeting] has been scheduled in advance with the prime minister's lawyers." Eli Zohar, the attorney representing Olmert, would not respond to news of the new police material. Earlier, former police chief investigator Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi told The Jerusalem Post that the National Fraud Unit had not had adequate time to properly interrogate Olmert. "It's hard to say that there has been a significant interrogation of Olmert," he said. "Detectives are supposed to lay down all of the details before their suspect and get responses. In Olmert's case, this hasn't been accomplished in an in-depth manner. There were only initial responses." Mizrahi added that Olmert would likely "be ready" for the third round of questioning on Friday. "Olmert's lawyers have access to the case material [due to the upcoming cross-examination]. So he will have explanations - Olmert did his homework," Mizrahi said. He added that it was safe to assume that Olmert would be asked to comment on findings from the police investigation in the US. Morris Talansky, meanwhile, is "not worried" by the tough cross-examination he is likely to face from the premier's legal team when he takes the stand on July 17, his lawyer, Jack Chen, said on Tuesday. Chen said his client would land in Israel again on Wednesday. "He's ready for this," said Chen. Olmert's lawyers will seek to undermine Talansky's descriptions of Olmert's personal use of the funds - which were intended as elections donations - such as family vacations and luxury hotel suites. Chen indicated that Talansky's reappearance would contribute no new information to the public record on Olmert's alleged misuse of the funds. "There is nothing new under the sun. He has already testified," Chen said. In response, Zohar said, "Let's wait until next week."