'US unlikely to grant Talansky immunity'

Former justice ministry official: From what I know of the Americans, "it is a far stretch."

talansky court 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
talansky court 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The former head of the International Section of the State Attorney's Office, Irit Kahn, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday it was unlikely US prosecutors would grant immunity to Morris Talansky, one of the state's two key witnesses in an investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "From my acquaintanceship with the Americans, it is a far stretch to imagine them agreeing to such a request," she said. "If they do, it will mark a big step forward in cooperation between the two countries." Last week, State Attorney Moshe Lador promised Talansky's Israeli lawyers, Jacques Chen and Yehoshua Reznik, that he would ask the Americans to grant immunity to Talansky regarding his past testimony in court and the scheduled resumption of his testimony next week in Jerusalem's District Court. Talansky's American lawyers, Bradley Simon and Neal Sher, have already told their Israeli colleagues Talansky would not return, as he had promised, to resume his cross-examination by the lawyers representing Olmert and his close aide, Shula Zaken, scheduled for next Sunday and Monday. They wrote that Talansky was under investigation by a district court grand jury on allegations that mirrored the case in Israel and that by returning to testify in Israel, he would be ignoring his constitutional right not to incriminate himself according to the Fifth Amendment. Based on what Talansky said in court during his six days of direct examination and cross-examination, Kahn said she thought the Americans could be investigating him for money laundering, tax evasion and the transfer of money without reporting it to the authorities. According to Kahn, it's possible that the latest instance of cooperation between Israeli and US law enforcement authorities over the case of the Abergil gang might signal a change in policy on the part of the US. The US has prepared an indictment against five members of the gang, including Yitzhak Abergil and his brother, Meir, regarding alleged crimes committed in the US. It has informed Israeli authorities that it intends to ask for the extradition of the suspects. All things being equal, however, "the US prosecution is uncompromising," said Kahn. "If the Americans suspect Talansky of wrong-doing and believe the testimony he gives will help prove it, it is unlikely they will accede to the Israeli request." According to Kahn, it should have been clear to everyone that when Lador told Talansky at the beginning of his pre-trial examination on May 27 that he would not be harmed by the testimony he gave in court, he was referring to the situation in Israel. "It was obvious that Lador did not have the authority to promise Talansky protection abroad," she said. Talansky's Israeli lawyers recalled the promise Lador had given when they met with him last week.