Prosecution demands clarifications regarding Olmert's response to charges

Prosecution demands clar

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his aide of many years, Shula Zaken, provided terse and vague replies to the charges against them and did not address the facts included in the indictment, the state prosecution said on Tuesday in a brief to the Jerusalem District Court. Meanwhile, sources close to Olmert said the prosecution had contradicted itself when it pressed charges against him for actions involving his one-time close friend and business partner, attorney Uri Messer, while closing the case against Messer himself. The prosecuting attorney, Uri Korev, asked the court to hold a special hearing on January 14 to obtain more precise answers from Olmert's battery of lawyers headed by Eli Zohar and Zaken's attorney, Micha Fetman, regarding the charges. In a written brief to the court on Monday, Zohar, on Olmert's behalf, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in the indictment, including in the Rishon Tours affair, for which the defense has not yet filed a written reply. Korev said on Tuesday that the written response was unsatisfactory. "In their reply, the defendants refrained from addressing most of the facts included in the indictment," he wrote. "Both defendants submitted 'lean,' vague and unclear replies. After reading the response to the indictment, we are left with many unanswered questions." In the reply to the indictment, Zohar wrote that "when the defendant pleads not guilty to an article in the indictment, it means that the prosecutor must prove the facts, and/or that the defendant does not agree with the way the facts have been presented, and/or that the facts have been presented in a partial or imprecise way and/or that the prosecutor's interpretation of the facts, and/or the fact that the charge includes actions in which the defendant was not involved in or did not know about at the time." Zohar either did not provide any details or wrote one brief sentence regarding most of the articles of the indictment. Only in a handful of instances did he write more than one sentence. A pre-testimony hearing is scheduled for January 14 before the court on any remaining disputes between the defense and prosecution over evidence that has been withheld from Olmert. Korev asked that before that hearing begins, the court hold a separate hearing to get the defense to elaborate on its replies to the charges.