Mazuz: PM Blocking Graft Probes

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday for what he said was deliberate obstruction of the corruption investigations against him.

"The police have faced serious difficulties in setting dates for questioning the prime minister, as well as in determining the length of the questioning," Mazuz told the High Court of Justice in response to a petition by journalist Yoav Yitzhak. The petition asked the court to declare Olmert incapacitated and remove him from office.

Yitzhak also asked the court to require Olmert to appear on short notice for any questioning and for as long as needed.

Earlier this week, Olmert rejected a police claim that he was unwilling to devote the required time to the graft investigations. Olmert has reportedly told associates that he was meeting the police's requests. In the first two questioning sessions, on May 2 and May 23, the police asked to question him for an hour, and the sessions indeed took an hour.

In a third session, on July 11, with regard to the so-called double-billing affair, Olmert said the police asked for three hours and he only agreed to two because he was flying to Paris that evening and had to prepare.

Olmert's media adviser, Amir Dan, said in response to Mazuz's statement: "As all requests for questioning were acceded to, the next date for questioning is also being coordinated at this time. We would be happy if with the same amount of efficiency the attorney general would order an investigation into the tendentious leaks instead of continuing to delay."

In discussions with his associates this week about the leak of the transcripts of the questioning sessions, Olmert said: "I am being court-martialed in the field; a public hanging of a prime minister by all kinds of leaks, and none of the purists who are protecting the foundations of justice have opened their mouths."

After the recent cross-examination of U.S. fund-raiser Morris Talansky in court, Olmert reportedly told associates that Talansky was "fantasizing" and called him a "fabricator" who told tales even about Yitzhak Rabin. Talansky is a key witness in the so-called cash-envelopes affair.

Olmert also said State Prosecutor Moshe Lador had swayed the court into allowing Talansky's early testimony.