State says indictment against PM expected by summer's end
Police, State Prosecutor's Office sources report of tense session between National Fraud Unit investigators, Prime minister Olmert. Latter said to be cooperative, sketchy on cardinal details. Police say he failed to refute suspicions against him
The State is expected to finalize an indictment against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by the end of the summer, a senior source at the State Prosecutor's Officer told Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday.
Legal sources familiar with the ongoing investigation against the prime minister, however, stressed that any indictment would by subject to a hearing – a legal precedent set by former President Moshe Katsav's case – and therefore "we may still be surprised."
National Fraud Unit investigators questioned Olmert for the second time over the weekend. The prime minister was reportedly cooperative, but failed to explain several key points, claiming he does not recall details.
According to the report, "The investigators got the impression that while (Olmert) was trying to make sure his testimony was as parallel to (Morris) Talansky's as possible, he also made sure to refute (Attorney Uri) Messer's testimony to the best of his ability."
Olmert was able to see preliminary transcripts of Talansky's questioning, but those pertaining to Messer's questioning were revealed to him only after he himself was questioned by the police.
Olmert reportedly referred to Messer – considered a close confidant for some 30 years – as his "personal bank," adding he has "absolute faith the (Messer) was running the finances properly and reporting them in accordance with the law."
As for Messer's claims that he gave Olmert's former Bureau Chief Shula Zaken packets full of cash to give to him, the prime minister stressed that he never receives any funds from either of them.
The police are now trying to find an explanation for the gaps between the amounts of money allegedly paid by Talansky to the amounts found.
Olmert further denied that Talansky paid for his vacation in Italy, and denied ever assisting him in a South African arms deal.
The questioning session itself, added the report, was tense: Olmert reportedly slammed police investigator for the continuing leaks to the media regarding his case; but his attempts to refute the suspicions against him, however, failed.
Police reject claims of leaks
Meanwhile Sunday, the police strongly rejected Olmert's claims that details from his investigation had been leaked to the press. A statement issued Sunday said that "the Israel Police view as serious any attempts to claim that they are responsible for leaks from the prime minister's investigation.
"The investigation team headed by Brigadier-General Shlomi Ayalon is doing its job in a professional and responsible manner, away from the limelight, in a bid to reach the truth.
"We regret the conduct of different elements familiar with the investigation's details, who are revealing its details and moves out of various interests, in order to divert the attention to issues which have nothing to do with the matter."
It is unclear who the police are referring to in the statement: Sources in the State Prosecutor's Office, or rather the lawyers of the affair's main suspects – Ehud Olmert, Shula Zaken, Uri Messer or Morris Talansky.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report