The State Prosecutor's Office decided Tuesday to close the case against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
in the political appointments case during his stint as industry, trade and labor minister.
One of the main reasons for closing the case was the fact that Olmert was charged
with bribery on the Holyland
case. The State Prosecutor's Office also closed the case against Olmert's former aide Oved Yehezkel.
"We found that alleged evidence indeed help to prove that while Olmert was industry, trade and labor minister, as well as when he was communication minister and finance minister, he allegedly abused his authority and acted in conflict of interests to promote members of Likud
Central Committee, Likud activists and those close to them in order to gain their support and secure his political stature," Deputy State Prosecutor of criminal affairs, Yehoshua Lemberger said in a statement.
Police recommended indicting Olmert and his former aide Yehezkel for breach of trust in the political appointments affair, and the State Prosecutor's Office summoned the two for a hearing.
The State explained that the decision to close the case was made last June, when Olmert was charged in the Holyland affair. "The existence of other legal procedures, with similar characteristics, was meaningful in making that decision," the statement said.
"We were wondering whether it would be right to indict Olmert in another criminal case given the two already ongoing and demanding criminal cases pertaining to the same timeframe," the statement said.
The State stressed that the case also holds alleged evidence against Yehezkel. "Usually it wasn't Olmert who did those things himself. Evidence indicates that Olmert would refer members of the Likud Central Committee to his aides."
Launched in 2007, the investigation focused on suspicions that Olmert was involved in political appointments in Israel's Small and Medium Enterprise Authority (SMEA) during his tenure as industry, trade and labor minister. A subsequent inquiry revealed a much wider scope of offences, pointing to 260 appointments or fringe benefits Olmert was responsible for as part of his various public positions.
Amir Dan, Olmert's communications director, said: "This is too little too late, as the damage has already been done when they took a reigning prime minister out of office for nothing." He added, "The issue of political appointments was blown out of proportion, as most of the alleged appointments were not decided by Olmert, and despite the fact that all appointments were made according to protocol and the law".
"Furthermore, most of the cases in the investigation were requests for appointments that were not granted since they were examined under protocol to begin with. Dan called on the State Prosecutor's Office to hold a hearing for Olmert on the Holyland case, as they did in this one.
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