Was the 'Jerusalem Post' a victim of Olmert double-billing?
Appendix of indictment may prove not only 'Post' paid for one of the former PM's trips to NY.
By DAN IZENBERGThe Jerusalem Post was somewhat dismayed on Monday to discover that it was involved in the indictment against former prime minister Ehud Olmert - and not only in its news-covering capacity.
It turns out that the Post may have been a victim of Olmert's alleged misdeeds.
In the appendix to the indictment, the state prosecution provided details of 17 trips abroad made by Olmert between 2002 and 2005, in which he made appearances on behalf of more than one organization and charged the organizations altogether more than the trip actually cost.
These are the trips that make up the so-called "Rishon Tours" affair.
The fourth trip listed in the appendix was made on December 5, 2002 when Olmert "flew to New York to take part in events held by The Jerusalem Post and another organization whose identity is unknown to the prosecution." Olmert was still mayor of Jerusalem at the time.
According to the charge sheet, the Post paid $4,925 to Olmert for the round-trip Tel-Aviv-New York ticket. At the same time, he allegedly charged the other organization $7,443 for the same ticket.
The actual price of the ticket was $7,443. "The surplus of $4,925, which was paid by the organizations as a result of the false billing, was transferred to Olmert's account in Rishon Tours," the indictment stated.
The Jerusalem Post, which at that time was under different ownership, could not clarify why it had asked Olmert to go to New York. But an article published by the newspaper with a New York dateline on December 6 informed it readers that Olmert was there to inaugurate a new Upper East Side synagogue named for the late billionaire banker Edmond Safra.
In other developments, the former prime minister's lawyers, Eli Zohar, Ro'i Blecher, Yehuda Weinstein and Navot Tel-Tzur, issued a statement late Sunday night charging that the indictment against their client included "a long list of irrelevant details, to which the state attributed criminal significance, even though there is no proof to establish any crime whatsoever."
For example, the lawyers wrote, Olmert was charged with deceiving the State Comptroller by giving him a false estimate of the value of his pen collection, even though one of the most reliable pen shops in the world had estimated the collection at no more than $70,000, while the indictment claimed it was worth NIS 1.3 million.
The lawyers also accused the state of "ignoring a long list of evidence and witness testimony," that disproved the charges against their client in the Rishon Tours affair.
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