Talansky returns to witness stand
About year after dramatic deposition which led to former Prime Minister Olmert's resignation, key witness in corruption case returns to Jerusalem court for completion of cross-examination. Defense counsel says investigation unnecessary, but State Prosecutor's Office insists, 'We have solid evidence'
About a year ago, Talansky gave a pre-deposition in one of the corruption cases launched against the former prime minister, which led to a draft indictment against Olmert and to his resignation.
The former prime minister's lawyers are attempting to show that Talansky's deposition was invalid and to emphasize contradictions in this testimony.
"We have already proved that his testimony is worth nothing and that he lied in his police interrogations and made up imaginary versions. Therefore, his testimony is not worth a cent" Olmert's media advisor, Amir Dan, said Saturday evening.
Olmert's attorneys, Eli Zohar and Navot Tel Tzur, said upon arriving at the courthouse that "anything with this witness is unnecessary. This is an unnecessary investigation and an unnecessary testimony."
In order to show that the key witness is untrustworthy, the defense counsels planned to use the investigations launched against Talansky in the United States on suspicion of money laundering and tax offenses.
Attorney Eli Zohar claimed that the State Prosecutor's Office knew that Talansky was unreliable even before approving his pre-deposition.
Zohar presented to the court a correspondence from May 16, 2008 between Jerusalem District Prosecutor Eli Abarbanel and Talansky's lawyer, in which Abarbanel stated that "the witness may be hiding things which could get him entangled in technical offenses, particularly in the US."
Talansky takes the stand (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The State Prosecutor's Office rejected the defense's claims, saying that there was solid evidence backing Talansky's deposition, including the interrogations of Olmert's former associate Uri Messer and the diaries of his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken.
"It’s a known fact that this is a problematic witness with internal contradictions, but a large part of his testimony is backed by other evidence," a state official said.
The procedure for which Talansky returned to Israel is unusual: Taking the witness stand at a court of law before an indictment has been filed. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador demanded this procedure last May for fear that the US businessman would not agree to return to Israel for a trial.