Talansky to Testify Tues. in PM Corruption Probe

The American fund-raiser Morris Talansky is to testify Tuesday and, if necessary, in the following days, the Jerusalem District Court ruled Friday.

The decision warded off an attempt by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, to postpone Talansky's testimony by another two weeks.

The proceedings, however, took on a strange twist when State Prosecutor Moshe Lador began to seek a later date; much more material had been uncovered which the prosecution had not yet been able to study.

Olmert lawyer Eli Zohar requested that the defense be allowed to postpone its cross-examination of Talansky to a later date and to call Talansky back to Israel for this purpose.

Zohar pledged that if Talansky did not return and they were unable to cross-examine him, the defense would not claim that the basis for the prosecution's evidence had been pulled out from underneath the prosecution.

Lador proposed as a compromise that Talansky testify on June 1.

Zohar responded that he was withdrawing his request for a postponement, apparently because the delay was too brief to help the defense team.

At this point, Lador, who was surprised that Zohar withdrew his request for a postponement, argued that the High Court of Justice had ruled that a new date would be set in District Court and that lawyers for Olmert and Zaken had delayed in submitting their petition.

"Are you asking for a continuance?" one of the surprised judges asked.

Apparently seeking to avoid admitting he was doing so, Lador said: "I am referring to the last ruling by the High Court that the District Court set the date and I am assuming that date today was to determine the date."

Lador was then forced to concede that the prosecution knew that hearing Talansky's testimony on Sunday was "unrealistic."

The court rejected Lador's request that Olmert and Zaken be present at the hearing as unnecessary.