State Requests Delay of Olmert Trial in Wake of Attorney's Exit

Prosecutor Uri Corb agrees to go on unannounced leave from trial after quoted criticizing the judiciary.

The State Prosecutor's Office has requested a three-month delay in hearing evidence in the corruption trial of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday, following Sunday's meeting between State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Deputy Jerusalem District Prosecutor Uri Corb.

Corb, a prosecutor in the Olmert trial, was quoted this week as having publicly criticized the judiciary. As a result, he has agreed to go on leave for an unannounced period of time.

In the statement released on Monday, the State Prosecutor's Office said it understands that "such a delay could severely hinder the court's work and the special preparations undertaken by the court ahead of the evidence stage of the trial."

The state added that it would not have "submitted the request if it was not for the unusual constraints it finds itself as a result of the unexpected development."

Olmert's media advisor, Amir Dan, said in response that the defense did not see "a reason for deferral."

"The court refused the defense's request to delay the proceedings after Yehuda Weinstein withdrew from the defense team to be appointed attorney general, and this situation is no different than the former," Dan added.

"Moreover," Dan said," Weinstein was one of the senior defense attorneys, while Corb was only the third in command."

While on leave, Corb's case will be examined by the disciplinary department at the Civil Service Commission. If he is found to have committed serious violations, a complaint will be filed against him at the commission's disciplinary court. At the end of such a process, the court may opt to sanction Corb - which could range anywhere from a reprimand to dismissal.

The hearing of testimonies in Olmert's trial on the Talansky, Rishon Tours and the Investment Center affairs, are scheduled to begin next Monday. Corb had been assigned to conduct the trial in court, and is the one who knows the prosecution's case best.

At this time, the state prosecution has no one to immediately replace Corb if a decision is made to suspend or dismiss him. As such, Corb's going on leave necessitates a suspension of the trial.

The daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published transcripts of statements made by Corb during a course he taught at the Sha'arei Mishpat College in Hod Hasharon - on the legal system, the judiciary (including Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch) and Lador.

Among statements attributed to Corb was that "a large portion of the judges in the State of Israel are major asses."

The Justice Ministry announced yesterday that Lador had called Corb in to clarify his position on the matter, and it was agreed that the prosecutor would take a short leave.

In a statement issued by the ministry, Corb said that "following the many reports in recent days, including many distortions targeting me, I am asking at this stage to take a short leave. I have already expressed to you [referring to Lador] and the media great sorrow at the damage I have caused by making use of a style that was out of place. I intend to find a way to clarify things in the coming days, and will do my best to correct the bad impression."