Ehud Olmert's Graft Trial Suspended Until February

Former PM is standing trial for the cash envelopes, Rishon Tours and Investment Center affairs.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert's graft trial was suspended to February, during the first court proceedings at the Jerusalem District Court on Friday morning.

Olmert and his former bureau chief Shula Zaken are standing trial for the cash envelopes, Rishon Tours and Investment Center affairs. They will not face charges of bribery, as the police had recommended to prosecutors.

The former prime minister is suspected of accepting cash envelopes from American businessman Morris Talansky.

He is also accused of illegally double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights he booked through Rishon Tours, sending them falsified receipts for travel expenses and using the surplus to finance personal and family trips abroad.

The Investments Center affair concerns allegations that Olmert granted personal favors to his old law partner, Uri Messer, who was acting on behalf of a company, which would constitute a conflict of interest, breach of trust, and fraud.

"I came here as an innocent man and I believe I will leave here as an innocent man," Olmert said before entering the courthouse.

"This position is certainly not easy for me. For three years I have been subject to an almost inhumane campaign of mudslinging and inquiries, and naturally I paid a price during that period."

This is the first time in Israel's history that an Israeli Prime Minister is officially put on trial.

The hearing focused on technical issues such as transferring state prosecutor's investigation materials to the defense, as well as assigning the timetable for the trial recommencement.

The defense lawyers said at the hearing's summation that they plan to proceed by first reviewing the investigated material.

During the second half of Friday's proceedings the state prosecution and the court judges disagreed regarding the beginning of the evidence stage of the trial, which was set for February 22nd.

Finally the judges announced that the evidence stage of the trial would indeed begin at the assigned date next year. Hearings will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday each week from that stage onward.Throughout the hearing Olmert appeared cheerful and smiled at the spectators who came to listen to the court proceedings.