Still abroad. Olmert
Photo: Ohad Tzoigenberg
Attorney Uri Messer
Photo: Dudi Azoulay

Olmert spokesman: No reason to arrest him

Trial of former PM resumes amid Jerusalem real estate corruption scandal. 'Many affairs began with much fanfare and ended with a whimper,' his attorney says. Media advisor: Olmert was not asked to cut short his trip abroad

The trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resumed Thursday morning at the Jerusalem District Court amid the Holyland corruption scandal.


During the hearing, the court rejected a motion to halt the trial until an investigation into the real estate scandal concludes.


The judges partially granted the State's motion to begin trial hearings with the Rishon Tours double-billing affair and ruled that in light of special circumstances the trial will be postponed until May 6


Olmert's long-time confidante Uri Messer was arrested Tuesday along with four other officials in connection with the affair involving the Holyland real estate project in southwest Jerusalem and additional projects. Police and the court have defined the new scandal as "one of the most serious corruption affairs in the State's history."


Attorney Messer is currently serving as a witness for the prosecution in two of the affairs Olmert has been indicted for.


Olmert's media advisor, Amir Dan, said ahead of the hearing that he does not believe the former PM will be arrested in connection with the Holyland affair.


Amid reports that a "prominent figure" is expected to be interrogated and even arrested, Olmert's attorney, Eli Zohar, said, "I've experienced affairs that began with much fanfare and ended with a whimper.


"There is no reason to believe that this (Olmert's arrest) will transpire," he said.


Dan criticized Israel Police and the State Prosecutor's Office, saying "they regularly issue gag orders to create a dramatic atmosphere, but this time it is much more severe, because not only are they tainted the reputation of individuals who cannot defend themselves, they are doing it while one of these individuals is on trial.


"The police and prosecution are violating the defendants' basic right to a fair trial. We have not been approached by any law enforcement agency and asked that Olmert, who is currently abroad, change his itinerary. Olmert will return to Israel after he finishes his business abroad," said the advisor.


Olmert trial

On Tuesday the prosecution in Olmert's trial asked the court to reverse the order of testimonies and to begin with the double-billing affair instead of the Investment Center and Talansky affairs.


The surprising request was made by Jerusalem District Prosecutor Eli Abarbanel, following a certain development in the double-billing affair.


Olmert's attorney strongly objected to the request, saying it constitutes a violation of his client's rights. The lawyer of the second defendant, Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken, expressed his reservations as well, saying that "it appears Abarbanel is not sufficiently aware of the difficultly created with the defense." 


פרסום ראשון: 04.08.10, 10:35
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