Olmert Questioned for Three Hours by Fraud Squad

Investigation, plea deal with aide could lead to new charges only days before sentencing in the Holyland affair.

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Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his lawyer.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his lawyer. Credit: Moti Milrod

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was questioned on Sunday for three hours at the offices of the National Fraud Investigations Unit, amid suspicions of obstruction of justice as well as tampering with evidence and testimony in the Talansky and Rishon Tours cases. This marks the second time Olmert was interrogated on the subject, and questioning is expected to end by the weekend.

Afterward, Judge David Rozen is expected to sentence most of those convicted in the Holyland case, including Olmert. Two days later, a meeting will be held in attempts to convince Rozen to accept the plea bargain reached with Shula Zaken, according to which she would serve 11 months in prison.

The prosecution plans to defend a reduced sentence for Zaken by presenting the judge some of the new evidence she provided, which introduces new suspicions against the former prime minister. Olmert’s defense lawer, Navot Tel Tzur, is also suspected of coercing testimony, according to the information provided by Zaken.

Two weeks ago, the prosecution approached the Supreme Court with a request to present Zaken’s new evidence and reopen the Rishon Tours and Talansky cases. State Prosectuor Shay Nitzan pointed out that the renewed investigation would include suspicions of obstruction of justice against Olmert.

Rozen received Sunday  the prosecution’s request that he postpone sentencing for former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky and former city council member Avraham Feiner, and instead hand them down on June 9.

With Lupoliansky, the prosecution is waiting for a medical opinion on the former mayor’s health and ability to serve prison time. His defense attorneys are seeking a suspended sentence. It was determined that Feiner, who was sent by the government for medical exams, is not healthy enough to carry out a prison sentence. A government representative said Feiner would not be made to serve the three- or four-year prison sentence he is likely to receive, and can perform community service and pay fines instead.

In his decision, Rozen hinted that he would view community service as sufficient punishment. “The authorities are requested to do everything they can to allow for suspect 11 [Feiner] to carry out his sentence through community service, due to his severe medical condition,” the judge wrote.

In late April, pleas were made in the Holyland case, in which Olmert was convicted of accepting bribes. Olmert’s defense attorney, Eli Zohar, requested that he not be sentenced to time in prison, while the prosecution was seeking at least six years in jail. According to Zohar, “Olmert’s personal circumstances push the scales toward the bottom end of possible punishment. Thirty-five years of public service cannot end without at least some recognition.” As such, Zohar claimed that the punishment being sought by the prosecution is not proportional. Zohar also stated that Olmert plans to appeal his conviction.

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