Yitzhak Zamir, a former attorney general and Supreme Court justice, is defending the state prosecutor against widespread criticism that followed the acquittal of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on corruption charges.

Zamir said the attacks on State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and his office were malicious and unjust, and undermined efforts to root out government corruption.

Zamir, 80, stopped commenting to the media on current affairs about a year ago. But in a letter to Lador earlier this week he said he would not object if his words were made public. The prosecution received Zamir's letter of support with deep satisfaction, officials told Haaretz.

Zamir wrote, "Olmert's partial acquittal says nothing, explicitly or implicitly, against the indictment itself or the way the suit was handled. I know how difficult it is to press charges against a senior government official, and the every fact you did not flinch from doing so is admirable. Woe are we as a state and a society if the prosecution would have refrained from serving the indictment, despite the material it had at the time.

"The offensive on the prosecution and on yourself is a malicious one, which is not only a personal injustice to you and the attorneys by your side, but also gravely endangers the rule of law, and especially the struggle against government corruption, which, as is commonly known, is deeply rooted in Israel." He said that a strong response to the attacks on the state prosecution and Lador is called for.

The letter continued, "I'm convinced you fulfilled your duty as head of the prosecution in Olmert's trial not only with a clean conscience and deep commitment, but also that you did right, in the manner required by your post, in serving the indictment and handling the prosecution. Otherwise you would have betrayed your office and your duty to the public."

Zamir concluded his letter by expressing his support for Lador and the state prosecution. "May you continue to carry out your difficult, sensitive duty fearlessly, as you have been doing so far," he wrote.

Zamir was the first attorney general in Israel to indict a cabinet minister (Aharon Abu-Hatzeira in 1980 ) and withstood immense pressure from prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir in the Bus 300 affair in 1986, when he insisted on indicting the head of the Shin Bet security service and other senior officials in the organization.

Moshe Sobel, one of the three judges in Olmert's trial, had served as Zamir's legal assistant in the Supreme Court.