In his detailed response to the indictment filed
against him, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert makes
a surprising move by supporting his former bureau chief Shula Zaken.
Although he himself is not indicted for the wiretapping affair for which Zaken was charged in the framework of a joint indictment against the two, Olmert has addressed her count in his response.
"There is not doubt in the mind of the defendant that all of the defendant's (Zaken's) actions on that score, whatever they were, were meant to improve and make efficient the bureau's work and to help the defendant's job," the response stated.
According to the former prime minister, "This is a groundless and forced accusation which unfortunately reflects a trend of profusion of indictments by the State while incorporating different matters into the indictment and dividing it to minor affairs, all in an effort to broaden the indictment." Zaken's own response to the indictment will be filed later on Monday.
Olmert also addressed the three counts for which he is charged together with Zaken which pertain to two corruption affairs – the Cash Envelopes affair involving Moshe Talansky, and the Investment Center affair.
After already pleading not guilty in general, Olmert addressed the various counts specifically in his response. He denied the vast majority of counts, and admitted to certain facts which he claimed reflected legitimate conduct on his part. Sources close to Olmert noted that his reference to the Rishon Tours double-billing affair will
be given at a later date.
In respect to the second count pertaining to the Talansky and
Investment Center affairs,
Olmert noted that the funds received from the businessman were "expense refunds" for overseas functions in which he appeared, and that all was done in the "customary fashion."
Olmert's attorneys claimed that their client regarded his participation in the events organized by Talansky with great importance and with the aim of promoting the ends of Jewish Diaspora bodies, helping them raise funds – "which was routinely done."
The former prime minister denied all of the counts which pertained to illegal receipt of funds and stressed that there was "a natural and customary relationship in relation to support of political views of an elected representative." As for actions he allegedly performed for Talansky, Olmert claims that his involvement was "part of his job and didn't go beyond his involvement in other cases." He provided a similar response regarding the Investment Center affair.
Olmert further denied all charges in the framework of the third count which pertains to fraudulent conduct with the state comptroller.
Olmert's communications director Amir Dan addressed the fact that the former prime minister is charged with various offences committed collectively with his attorney and friend Uri Messer, while the case against Messer was closed.
"It appears as though two different Prosecutor's Offices, with no connection between them, are behind the decisions in respect to Olmert and Messer. Essential factual discrepancies separate the indictment which was hastily formed based on partial data, from the later decision pertaining to Messer."
It should be noted that the State Prosecutor's Office's decision of closing the case against Messer detailed the rationale behind it. According to the explanation, Olmert, as opposed to Messer, was a public figure who was subject to harsher standards.