Cash-envelope Case Involving ex-PM Olmert and Talansky to Be Reopened

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Olmert, prior to hearing his sentence, in the Tel Aviv court. May 13, 2014. Credit: AP

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Talansky case involving former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be reopened at the Jerusalem District Court.

Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote in his decision that the tapes provided to the State Prosecutor’s Office by Olmert's former assistant Shula Zaken, as part of a plea deal and state’s witness agreement last March, will be used as new evidence.

In the case, Olmert was accused of allegedly receiving illicit funds from U.S. businessman and fund-raiser Morris Talansky, while serving in various public positions.

The accusations predated his election as prime minister. As mayor of Jerusalem (1993-2003) and as minister of industry and trade (2003-2006), Olmert allegedly accepted significant sums of money, both directly and indirectly, from at least one third party. Olmert allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the suspicions. Olmert was acquitted in that case.

The two recordings, from May 2011 and October 2012 – a month after the verdicts were given in the case – include conversations between Olmert and Zaken, who was Olmert’s bureau chief and served him for decades when he was mayor, a minister and later prime minister.

The prosecutors wanted to reopen the case based on the tapes, on the grounds that they strengthen the case against Olmert and explain why Zaken refused to testify in the original Talansky trial – to protect Olmert.

Wednesday's decision means, in effect, that the Talansky case will be reopened, as Olmert will have the right to challenge the new evidence and reopen questions that have been ruled on.

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