State asks court to reject Olmert's petition to postpone hearing

Former PM accused of deliberately trying to delay hearing on allegations against him in the Rishon Tours affair for as long as possible.

olmert 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
olmert 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
In a preliminary response to the High Court of Justice on Sunday, the state accused former prime minister Ehud Olmert of deliberately trying to delay the hearing on the allegations against him in the Rishon Tours affair for as long as possible. The state was responding to a petition filed April 7 by Olmert's lawyers, Eli Zohar, Ro'i Blecher, Navot Tel-Tzur and Yehuda Weinstein, asking that the hearing be postponed until several conditions were fulfilled. The conditions were that the state first make decisions on all of the investigations under way against Olmert, that it wait until Olmert completes medical examinations in the US related to his prostate cancer, that the state hand over all the investigative material in all of the cases and that Morris Talansky, the key witness in another affair, complete his pretrial testimony in Jerusalem District Court. The testimony is scheduled to be heard on June 28 and 29. "It is hard to escape the impression that the only purpose of filing the petition at this time is to cause a delay of procedures in the matter of the petitioner for as long as possible without any substantive reason," wrote the state's representatives, attorneys Dana Briskman and Naomi Bait. "The consequence of agreeing to this petition is a prolonged postponement of the hearing - and therefore the decision regarding the petitioner [as to whether to indict or not], for a lengthy unknown period of many months." On November 26, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz announced that he was considering indicting Olmert in connection with the Rishon Tours affair, conditional on the outcome of a hearing. After several delays, the hearing was set to take place on April 19 and April 27. On April 7, Olmert's lawyers petitioned the High Court of Justice asking to postpone it until the conditions listed above were met and also asking for an interim injunction to prohibit Mazuz from holding the hearing until the court ruled on the petition. Justice Miriam Na'or partially granted the interim injunction request by ruling that the hearing could not be held before May 10. It ordered the state to submit its response to the petition by the end of April. As a result, Olmert's hearing was not held as originally scheduled and no new dates have been set for it. In addition to responding to the petition on Sunday, the state also asked the court to hold its hearing on the petition urgently.