Barak: Law Enforcement System Must Be Protected From Olmert's Assaults

Defense Minister slams PM's attack of police handling of corruption probe against him.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday said that the freedom and the command of law enforcement authorities must be protected, in reference to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's response to recent allegations he was obstructing the corruption investigations against him by failing to cooperate with police investigators.

"The courts, the police and the state prosecution must be protected from attempts to harm their authority and their freedom," Barak said at a Labor Party conference Friday. "Over recent days, we have seen a renewed assault against the law enforcement authorities," he added, warning that the "prosecution, police and the courts are essential bodies in any democracy."

Olmert, for his part, complained earlier this week that he was being tried in a court of public opinion and that various leaks and "tricks" being employed in the investigations against him were tantamount to a public hanging.

"None of the possessors of a conscience, the moralizers, the eye-rollers and the purists that defend the foundations of justice and the judicial system have said a single word," Olmert said during a discussion at his office. "First they picked a target, then they decided on a punishment and then they drew a circle around me and only after that did they begin the process that usually serves as the basis for a trial."

"I've made mistakes," Olmert went on to say, "but this isn't the arena in which to judge my mistakes and this is not the way. Not in the media, not via vicious leaks and press conferences."

Earlier Friday, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter also responded to Olmert's complaints, which were made public in most Israeli media outlets, saying "I reject with disgust the aggressive assault this morning in all the media outlets by the prime minister against the law enforcement system. These attacks will not weaken the police or the prosecutors nor will they deter them from carrying out the sacred work that we, including the prime minister, have tasked them with."

Dichter, a member of Olmert's Kadima Party, plans to vy for leadership of the party in the upcoming primaries.

Journalist petitions High Court to review PM's datebook

Journalist Yoav Yitzhak asked the High Court of Justice on Friday to instruct Olmert to hand over his datebook for judicial review.

Yitzhak claims that Olmert is mocking police and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz when he claims not to be available for questioning in the ongoing corruption investigation against him. According to Yitzhak, opening Olmert's appointment calendar will provide proof of that.

The request is part of a petition Yitzhak filed with the High Court, in which he asked the court to declare the prime minister incapacitated for a pre-determined period of time, during which he would be questioned every day in regard to all six open investigations against him. Yitzhak also asked that Olmert be compelled to comply with short notice summons for questioning should the investigation require it.

Olmert this week notified police that he will agree to be questioned again next Friday for two hours. In his petition, Yitzhak asserted two hours was not enough time to advance the investigation, and added that Olmert should be questioned for five or six hours at a time.

Attorney General Mazuz on Thursday criticized the prime minister saying that he was deliberately obstructing the investigation against him.

However, in regard to the petition calling for Olmert to be declared incapacitated, Mazuz reiterated his previous assertion that Olmert's continued service as prime minister is not a legal issue, but rather a political one.