PM's lawyers: Talansky will be discredited

Attorneys: Talansky's testimony to be harmed by ex-partners; Fmr. investigator: Olmert will be indicted.

olmert talansky 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
olmert talansky 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's lawyers are counting on two of Morris Talansky's former business partners to undermine the key witness's testimony given in May by demonstrating who the "real" Talansky is, according to a source who spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday on condition of anonymity. The source named the two as David Friedland and Robert Greenberger - Talansky's former partners in the Kooltech company - who are now at legal loggerheads with him, and who the lawyers hope might raise questions about the businessman's handling of money. The company was founded to develop and market a minibar that could electronically inform hotel management what snacks and drinks guests had taken without staff having to physically check the refrigerators in their rooms. Talansky sued Friedland and Greenberger last December 20 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Long Island's Nassau County. Friedland and Greenberger were among 15 to 20 witnesses questioned by Israel Police detectives during a recent visit to the US. Talansky, who said he gave Olmert $150,000 in undeclared cash donations, is back in Israel and appeared to be in fine fettle Thursday ahead of the grilling he is expected to receive when the prime minister's lawyers cross-examine him next week. "It's great being back in Israel. I feel wonderful," a cheerful Talansky told the Post. He said he did not wish to comment further before the courtroom showdown begins on July 17. According to reports, Olmert will be questioned on Friday regarding some of the material gathered by the investigators in the US, as well as additional information gleaned by investigators back home since he was last questioned. The prime minister's lawyers have reportedly received financial and other documents from the investigation conducted in the US, but not the transcripts of the witnesses' testimony. In one of two briefs submitted to the court on Thursday, the lawyers, Eli Zohar, Ro'i Blecher, Nevot Tel-Tzur and Ron Shapira, made it clear that they were anticipating receiving Friedland's and Greenberger's testimony. "Among others," they wrote, "we are talking about testimony taken from Talansky's business partners in the US. We expect the testimony to shed light on Talansky's handling of money, which raises many questions. We expect these testimonies to play an important role in Talansky's cross-examination." In the second brief, submitted later Thursday, the lawyers asked the Jerusalem District Court to order the state to hand over all of the material gathered by police immediately after police question Olmert on Friday, in what will be his third such session since the investigation began. The lawyers wrote that they turned to the court for help after being told by Jerusalem District Attorney (Criminal) Eli Abarbanel that "the investigation material will not be handed over to Olmert's lawyers even after Olmert's investigation [on Friday] and therefore, they will not have it in their possession when they cross-examine Talansky." The lawyers' concern may also have been spurred by reports that the Israeli investigators in the US "collected information documenting disagreements between Talansky and his business partners. The estimation is that these materials - that may embarrass Talansky, harm his testimony and entangle him with US tax authorities - will not be used against Olmert. This is because the prosecutors are concerned that the presentation of this material will foment a crisis in the relations between Talansky and the prosecution and that he might get 'cold feet' as the affair proceeds." The state's response to the lawyers' demand for all the investigation material did nothing to reassure them. In a letter to Zohar and attorney Micha Fetman, who represents longtime Olmert aide Shula Zaken, the other key suspect in the affair, Abarbanel wrote, "For the good of the investigation, some investigation material that was collected by the police will not be handed over to you at this time. We hope we will be able to hand it over as quickly as possible." In the first brief, filed in the morning, Olmert's lawyers informed the court that they required five days to cross-examine Talansky, assuming each hearing lasted eight hours. They added that they would have to hold a another session later on because they had just received nine boxes of investigation material gathered by the police in the US and were expecting more, including the testimony given by Friedland and Greenberger. Such a move would allow the attorneys to "wear down" the police's chief witness, warned Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi, former head of Israel Police investigations. "I think they will pressure him and try to ask him thousands of questions in an effort to go into every detail and wear him down," Mizrahi said. "But the aim here is to allocate enough time to get to the truth. We don't need every detail. The court has to protect its most valuable asset, which is time, and not waste it on a war of attrition waged by Olmert's lawyers." Mizrahi said Thursday that Olmert would most likely be indicted when the investigation was completed. Other sources were quoted as predicting an indictment in August. Police and aides to Olmert continued to escalate their rhetoric, exchanging accusations of foul play and leaks to the press. "The police are waging a war, not an investigation," Amir Dan, Olmert's PR man, lamented, referring to a series of reports that appeared earlier Thursday, attributed to unnamed "senior law enforcement officials" and saying investigators would "take the gloves off" during their interrogation session with the prime minister on Friday. Another report claimed police would question Olmert one more time after Friday before prosecutors indicted him. Police deny any link to these reports, and a National Fraud Unit spokeswoman predicted to the Post on Thursday that "as we approach Morris Talansky's cross-examination on July 17, these claims will get more and more creative." But Dan did not buy the police denials. "These are police sources. Why are they issuing threats? I'm sure that five minutes after Olmert's interrogation, you will start to receive updates on what transpired during the session," he said. "The threats being meted out by police... are reminiscent of other periods and other regimes. Where in a democratic state have we heard of the police expressing itself like this to an elected prime minister?!" an angry beeper message sent by Dan read on Thursday. "If anyone suspects the police of leaking information from the investigation, they should go to the Police Investigation Department," former chief police investigator Cmdr. (ret.) Yosef Sedbon said. "In every sensitive investigation the police are blamed for these things, but it will not deter the investigators."