Olmert Calls Legal Battle 'Obsession for Some People'

Ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert slams State Prosecutor Moshe Lador in last day testifying in direct examination phase of corruption trial.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finished testifying yesterday in the direct examination phase of his corruption trial in the Jerusalem District Court, attacking State Prosecutor Moshe Lador for an interview he gave Haaretz in February.

"I can't get over the feeling that this whole issue and this whole indictment and this whole effort to accuse me of attempted fraud was such an obsession for some people that they didn't hesitate to say in media interviews that I took a scandalous loan and then didn't repay it, which has no connection to the truth," Olmert said on the stand.

Moshe Lador - Michal Fattal - June 28 2011
Michal Fattal

Olmert was asked about allegations that he had taken NIS 100,000 from businessman Yosef Elmaliah in 1998 and not reported it to the state comptroller.

Olmert said that the money had been given as a donation to cover legal costs and that the attorney general knew he was collecting funds for this.

Olmert also allegedly received NIS 75,000 from Elmaliah in 1993, which he claimed was a loan that was repaid last year.

"It was an 'on-call' loan to be repaid on demand; you don't set a repayment date," Olmert said.

Olmert was also asked about his alleged deceit of the state comptroller regarding the value of his pen collection, after he reported that it was worth NIS 140,000 rather than the NIS 1.3 million determined by an appraiser.

He said he had written to the comptroller that the collection was worth NIS 140,000 in 1993, which would have been equivalent to $300,000 in 2003, when the report was filed.

The hearing was interrupted at one point when Olmert's lawyer Roy Blecher started yelling at prosecutor Uri Korev. In response to the outburst, the judges left the courtroom for several minutes.

Tomorrow Olmert will be questioned by Micha Fettman, the attorney for his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. His cross-examination will begin next week.