Ex-PM Olmert Says Brother's Testimony in Holyland Graft Trial 'Damaging'

On the second day of his testimony in the Holyland affair, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says his brother Yossi has only tried to protect himself.

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Former prime minister Ehud Olmert continued his testimony in the Holyland affair Tuesday morning. His testimony had to do with that of his brother, Yossi Olmert, who admitted to accepting money from the late businessman Shmuel Dachner, who turned state’s witness — the act for which Ehud Olmert was accused of taking bribes. Denying his original version of events, Joseph Olmert said that his brother had had nothing to do with taking the money.

In his testimony Tuesday morning, Olmert seized on the fact that the checks from Dachner’s bank account had not been found even though Yossi Olmert admitted to receiving the money.

“I have no idea about what he gave him. Mr. Dachner is a pathological liar. He said he gave the checks from his own bank account," declared Olmert. "The fact that these checks were never found is very odd. On the other hand, there is no doubt that during his investigation in the United States, Yossi Olmert confessed to having received significant amounts of money, and there is no doubt that he also denied it in court. During the court’s investigation, he also denied one thing vehemently — that neither he nor I had any connection, knowledge or involvement. He said so unequivocally. My name never came up in any way. All the rest — who is lying, how much he is lying and other such things — I can’t say because I wasn’t there and I didn’t know.”

Olmert said it was possible that Dachner found out about his brother’s unstable financial situation from former civil service commissioner Avraham Natan.

Responding to the claim that his brother was trying to protect him, Ehud Olmert said, “Yossi tried to protect only one person: himself. He never tried to protect me. How did he try to protect me? He caused me damage. He made me feel deeply insulted as a brother, and when I sat in the courtroom in Washington, you could see how I lowered my head in terrible shame from that whole performance. It’s obvious that he wanted to protect himself by trying to distance himself from the case when, at the first stage, he had admitted to its existence, knowing what that would do to my position and how it would affect me. It’s absolutely clear that he caused, or contributed significantly to, the fact that I’m standing here in court, charged with something I knew nothing about and had no part in.”

Ehud Olmert’s defense attorney, Roi Belcher, presented Olmert with the claim by the State Prosecutor’s Office that he had asked Talansky to pay his brother, as he had asked Dachner to do. Three months after Yossi Olmert moved to the U.S. because of his heavy debts in Israel, in November 2004, a transfer of $30,000 from Talansky’s bank account to Joseph Olmert’s account at Bank Mizrahi in Ra’anana was found. Talansky said under questioning that he did not know Yossi Olmert and that he had received the details of his bank account from Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief at the time, Shula Zaken.

While Olmert denied having asked Talansky to transfer money to Yossi, he said that he had no problem with Talansky’s having done so. “There is no criminal offense here except for the fact that I didn’t know about it. Talansky is not a businessman in Israel. If there was any trace of criminal activity, the State Prosecutor’s Office would have noted it in the indictment. Someone seems to be trying to show a pattern even though I never contacted Talansky. I never spoke with him. The one who says there’s a link is showing only his own values. Shula will tell you herself what happened with Talansky.”

Olmert suggested the possibility that Rachael Risby Raz, who is known from the Rishon Tours case as the one who arranged his trips, had contacted Talansky herself.

Ehud Olmert at his trial on Tuesday.Credit: Tal Shahar
Shula Zaken.Credit: Tal Shahar
Joseph Olmert in 1989Credit: Government Press Office