Verdict Expected Today in One of Two Olmert Corruption Trials

Trial of former PM involves three separate bribery and corruption cases.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

A verdict is expected Tuesday morning in the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, involving three separate bribery and corruption cases.

The panel of three Jerusalem District Court judges is slated to deliver its ruling at 9:30 A.M. on what have come to be known as the Rishon Tours, Talansky and Investment Center affairs.

When he first took the witness stand, in May 2011, Olmert told the court, "I am fighting for my life here," and he has certainly waged a stubborn legal battle.

The defense and the prosecution are in agreement about most of the relevant facts in the case; it is their interpretation that is in dispute. The two sides differ on the broader context of the incidents, as well as Olmert's state of mind at the time of his actions. Thus, the question at hand is whether he deliberately and knowingly committed fraud, as the prosecution claimed, or, whether, as the defense argued, the alleged offenses were a byproduct of the disorganization of his office, Olmert's immense workload, negligence or even malice of figures close to him.

In the Rishon Tours affair, for example, prosecutor Uri Corb argued that only a methodical system of double-billing and similar ploys could explain how Olmert and his family traveled abroad without worrying about payment. Defense attorney Navit Negev, however, argued that at most, Olmert was guilty of running a disorganized office that sometimes overbilled and sometimes underbilled.

Olmert allegedly pocketed $92,164 by claiming double and triple reimbursement from public organizations and from the state for trips between 2002-2006.

In the Talansky affair, which led to Olmert's resignation as prime minister in 2008, Olmert is charged with illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally. The main dispute is over the credibility of the American fundraiser Morris Talansky as a witness, as well as the source of the funds he funneled to Olmert.

The Investment Center affairs concerns allegations that Olmert, during his term as industry, trade and labor minister, granted personal favors to Uri Messer, his old law partner. Messer worked for companies using the services of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry agency and also held thousands of shekels in cash for Olmert.

Olmert is also one of sixteen suspects charged with wrongdoing in the Holyland corruption trial, which involves developers who allegedly paid bribes to senior Jerusalem municipal officials in exchange for expedited approval of expanded construction plans for the Holyland project.

Read this article in Hebrew

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, foreground, with ex-bureau chief Shula Zaken, center. Credit: Michal Fattal



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