Court Says No to ex-PM Olmert's Request for Psych Evaluation of the Netanyahus

Olmert made the request last month after the Netanyahu family sued him after he said the former prime minister, his wife Sara and son Yair were mentally ill and repeatedly refused to apologize

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
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Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in January, with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in the background.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in January, with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in the background.Credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI / POOL / AFP
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

An Israeli court rejected on Wednesday former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's request that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his family undergo psychiatric evaluations as part of their ongoing libel case.

According to Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Amit Yariv, Olmert's request constitutes an invasion of privacy and medical confidentiality. He added that Olmert's question is based on the false concept that the accuser must completely relinquish their privacy.

Olmert made the request last month after the Netanyahu family sued him for 837,000 shekels ($269,000) after he said the former prime minister, his wife Sara and son Yair were mentally ill and repeatedly refused to apologize.

In his response to the court, Olmert argued that his statement wasn’t slanderous, because the family had been in psychological treatment, and what he said was therefore true. He also demanded that the court waive medical confidentiality rules for all three plaintiffs so that their mental health could be verified.

In the request submitted to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, Olmert also sought the disclosure of “any relevant documents in anyone’s possession.” His lawyer, Amir Tytunovich, told Haaretz that the defense assumes the family has evidence of their own mental health status.

As a corollary to his request, Olmert sent all three Netanyahus questionnaires about their mental health. The questionnaires asked them to list all occasions since 1996 when they sought psychological treatment or took psychiatric drugs, and whether any competent professional had ever determined that any of them had a mental health problem.

But at a preliminary hearing on the case, Judge Amit Yariv stressed that the main issue in the trial “isn’t the question of whether the plaintiffs are or aren’t healthy. The question is whether, when the defendant said what he said, he had grounds for it.”

At the start of the hearing, Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Amit Yariv asked Olmert what he based his claim on when he said “what can’t be fixed is the mental illness of the prime minister and his wife and son. That’s not fixable.”

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