'Talansky has close affinity to Israel'

NY financier's lawyer dismisses concerns he may not return to testify if indictment served against PM.

Talansky car 224.88 (photo credit: Yaakov Lappin )
Talansky car 224.88
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin )
Citing his client's "close affinity to Israel," an attorney representing New York financier Morris Talansky dismissed concerns voiced by the state prosecution on Sunday that Talansky might not return to testify in court if the latest police investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resulted in an indictment. Talansky is suspected of illegally sending large amounts of cash to Olmert over several years. A statement sent by Talansky's lawyer, Jack Chen, to The Jerusalem Post spoke of Talansky's "deepest affinity for the country in which his children, grandchildren and many other members of his family reside, all of [whom] are citizens of this country." "Neither an investigation, nor a trial, press reports, nor any other form of discomfort will cause him [Talansky] to cut his ties to the country which he sees as his home, and to which he is linked with all of his soul," the statement continued. Talansky's repeated promises to return to testify came as Olmert's attorneys were fighting to overturn a decision by the Jerusalem District Court to take "preliminary" testimony from Talansky next Sunday. The hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Monday morning. State prosecutors said Talansky's promise to return "cannot be trusted," since "he is a suspect in the affair." However, Talansky's attorney said his client had "answered all of the questions put to him by the police and has fully laid out his version, emphasizing that he was not involved in any violation of the law." A no-travel ban is keeping Talansky in Israel as the investigation continues, but he is growing impatient with his prolonged stay in the country and has set Monday, May 26, as the deadline after which Talansky's attorney will petition the Jerusalem District Court to overturn the no-fly ban. Talansky's "ongoing disengagement from his home in the US, his wife, and business there are taking a very heavy toll," his lawyer said. In any case, Talansky will return to Israel next month for a grandson's wedding, the lawyer added. Also on Sunday, the state told the Supreme Court that Olmert and his lawyers had no one but themselves to blame for the fact that they had so few days left to prepare for Sunday's cross-examination of Talansky. The prosecutors' assertion was included in the state's response to appeals filed last week by attorneys Eli Zohar, Ro'i Blecher and Nevot Tel-Tzur, who are representing Olmert, and Micha Fetman, who is representing the prime minister's former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. "With regard to the claim [by the appellants] regarding the large amount of evidence in the possession of the prosecution and the difficulty to prepare for the cross-examination of [Talansky] according to the timetable that has been set, it should be pointed out that the lower court's decision was conveyed to the parties on Friday afternoon (May 9)," the prosecutors wrote. "The state informed the counsel for the appellants that it was ready to hand over most of the evidence by Friday evening! Nevertheless, the defense, for its own reasons, did not do anything to receive the material up to this very moment." The state accused the lawyers of deliberately dragging their feet. The prosecutors - State Attorney Moshe Lador, Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel and Tamar Boorstein, who is in charge of criminal matters in the State Attorney's Office - wrote that while the Jerusalem District Court had been quick to hear the state's request to examine and cross-examine Talansky and quick in handing down its decision, it had taken the defense attorneys six days after it was handed down to appeal against it. In the first section of its response to the appeal, the state repeated the arguments it had presented to the lower court to the effect that despite his promises, Talansky might not return to Israel once he left because he would not want to testify against Olmert, his friend of 15 years. The state also rejected the argument raised in the appeal that there were other ways to obtain Talansky's testimony, even if he did not return, should the state indict Olmert and Zaken. For one thing, taking testimony or holding a closed-circuit hearing from the US would require Talansky's cooperation. For another, since a crucial element in the testimony would be the sincerity and credibility of the witness, it would be essential for the judges to see and hear the testimony from up close. Regarding the appellant's argument that the pre-trial testimony would harm the suspect's rights, including the fact that the defense lawyers would be questioning Talansky while the investigation was still going on, the state argued that this factor had been known to the legislators who enacted the law allowing pre-trial testimony, yet they had found cause to approve it anyway. The disadvantages to the suspects would be taken into account by the judge, should the case go to trial, the state continued. Furthermore, since the defense was certain Talansky would return to testify should there be a trial, they would get the chance to question him in court after having studied all the evidence in the case.