Talansky testimony continues in J'lem

In previous cross-examination session, Olmert's lawyer catches NY financier in contradictions.

Talansky court 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Talansky court 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's lawyer, Eli Zohar, caught Morris Talansky contradicting statements he had made to police in May and accused him of lying to the court during the US businessman's second day of cross-examination in Jerusalem District Court on Friday. The third of the five days scheduled for the cross-examination is due to be held on Sunday. During Friday's session, the two had the following exchange: Zohar: I am showing you another list of names [from the police interrogation of May 21] who contributed to Olmert's 1998 campaign for mayor of Jerusalem. Do you recognize the names of anyone who contributed through you? Talansky: No. Zohar: [Reads off names from list. Talansky confirms that 10 of them contributed checks through him.] I asked you whether you recognized any of the names and you said definitely no. Why? Talansky: I thought you were talking about cash contributions. Your question to me was in the context of cash payments. Zohar: Why didn't you confirm these names when I asked you? Talansky: I thought you were talking about cash. Zohar: I asked who contributed through you and you said none. Why did you say none? Did they contribute through you? Talansky: What do you mean "through you?" Zohar: Mr. Talansky, don't make a fool of all of us. This segment of the cross-examination was characteristic of the tension between attorney and witness throughout Friday's six-hour hearing. In addition to trying to prove to the court that Talansky was a liar, Zohar also wanted to demonstrate that Olmert may have declared all the cash that Talansky had given him. Talansky told Zohar he had been involved in 10 parlor meetings arranged to collect money for Olmert's election campaigns. He said he had organized three of them himself and attended seven others. It was not clear from his testimony whether he had invited his own friends and acquaintances to all the meetings, some of the meetings or only the three he hosted. Talansky insisted, however, that all the money donated to Olmert at the meetings had been given in cash. That was why Zohar focused so heatedly on the fact that 10 of Talansky's friends had donated checks to Olmert's 1998 campaign. Talansky replied that the checks were an exception and that Olmert's lawyer, Uri Messer, had specifically asked him on one occasion to collect checks for the campaign. According to Talansky, Messer had even specified the sum of money for each check - $1,200 for regular contributors and $7,000 for "trustees." The checks given by "Talansky's contributors," including Talansky himself, were for one or the other of those sums. Talansky added that he had not solicited these checks at the regular parlor meetings, but had either held a meeting or gone from one acquaintance to another one day at an office building. But Zohar then showed the court a video clip from one of the police interrogations in which Talansky testified that he had held a parlor meeting to collect these checks. In fact, he contradicted himself during the interrogation itself, saying at one point that he had held one parlor meeting to collect the checks and at another point that he had held several parlor meetings to collect them. He also told the police that Olmert had personally told him to collect the checks, and dismissed the possibility that the instruction had come from Messer. "That could have been an error," said Talansky Friday. "It happened 10 years ago. You can't expect me to remember every detail." Zohar continued: So, whatever you said here was not true. Whatever you said in the investigation was true or not true. Is it true? Talansky: There were no parlor meetings [to collect the checks.] There was a meeting. I went around the office, asked for the checks and collected them. That's where I got the checks. Messer was not at the meeting. Zohar: Another lie. Talansky: A contradiction, not a lie. You're asking me to remember things that happened 10 years ago. Zohar: If you don't remember something, say so. Don't be so firm in saying cash, checks. On Sunday, I will show you more. Zohar also tried to establish that there was a possibility that the money Talansky had given Olmert for the 1993 election had, indeed, been reported to the State Comptroller's Office in accordance with the law. Olmert's lawyer presented a letter written by the chartered accountant and the lawyer representing his party, Jerusalem United, in his 1993 campaign, informing the state comptroller that the party had received NIS 80,000 in cash donations. The statement did not include the names of the donors nor indicate whether the money was given in shekels or dollars. Zohar asked Talansky whether it was conceivable that the money he gave Olmert from the parlor meetings could have amounted to the same sum report by his campaign managers to the state comptroller. "It's possible," Talansky conceded. State Attorney Moshe Lador protested the line of questioning, saying Talansky had no idea of what happened to the money after he gave it to Olmert or his aides and knew nothing about the statements made by Jerusalem United to the state comptroller.