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Olmert acquitted on major criminal charges

JERUSALEM – Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli Prime Minister, has been acquitted of criminal charges in two out of out three cases in a rare triple trial.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert emerged from the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday morning promising this will not be the last the public hears from him. With his trademark smile on his face towards the end of his comments to the press, Olmert  said he felt vindicated by the decision delivered by a “respectable” court. Olmert repeatedly stated “there were no envelopes, there were no envelopes,” a reference to the accusations he accepted cash bribes prior to his position as Israeli premiere. Olmert was convicted of a lesser charge of “breach of trust” in the “Investment Center” case, which is unlikely to carry a prison term.

Speaking thirty minutes prior, Olmert’s attorney verbally attacked the attorney general’s office for what he said was a witch-hunt against his client, insisting on a speedy trial and immediate revelation of facts that would “shake the earth.” Olmert’s legal team suggested the attorney general acted out of line and as part of a concerted effort to topple Olmert. The 2008 charges led to Olmert’s resignation as head of the center-right Kadima party, and to the end of his tenure as prime minister. He was replaced temporarily by Tzipi Livni, then serving as foreign minister, who eventually lost in the elections to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The charges against Olmert stemmed from his earlier positions as mayor of Jerusalem and as minister of trade. The trial was unique for a number of reasons, not least of which because it involved a former prime minister. Additionally, it was heard before three judges, as opposed to one, and encompassed three different cases – the Investment Center, the “Talansky” case (a reference to American businessman and rabbi Morris Talansky) and the “Rishon Tours” case (a reference to Olmert’s private tour company), in which he was accused of knowingly double- and triple-billing Jewish organizations and pocketing the profits. Olmert restated his innocence:

This was no corruption, there were no cash-filled envelopes, there was no bribery, there was no illicit use of funds.  The Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs were the heart of the prosecution’s claim against me, and I was acquitted in both cases.

Olmert’s attorney indicated he will not appeal the guilty verdict (on the lesser charge) if the Attorney General’s office does not appeal the acquittal (on the greater charges).  But Olmert also still faces a legal battle in the so-called “Holy Land” case, which centers around his involved in a housing project in West Jerusalem.

In December 2011, former Israeli President Moshe Katsav began serving a 7-year prison sentence after being found guilty on charges of rape.

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    1. XYZ

      I posted this comment also at Dimi Reiders posting but I think it is imoprtant to enough to post here to make sure everyone sees it and understands how the Israeli justice system works:

      It is very important to keep one thing in mind regarding these cases of important elected officials…the charges brought against them having NOTHING to do with “fighting corruption” or “ensuring justice”. THEY ARE POLITICAL HARRASSMENT, pure and simple. That is not to say they are innocent, but many others have done the same things and are not charged, because those in the so-called “law and order mafia” happen to like those people. The charges are brought on the basis of “get something on him” and the investigators go through their records, hoping to find something on them. (As the NKVD used to say during the period of the Stalin terror in the USSR-“you give me the man, and I will give you the charges!”). I predicted to a friend of mine this morning, before they announced the verdict that he will be aquitted on 2 and convicted on one, and that is exactly what happened.
      There are many precedents for these prosecutions. Start with Rabin and the “illegal” bank account in 1977 when he was forced to step down as head of the Labor Party in favor of Peres. Then there was Aharon Abuhatzera, un “uppity” Sefardi, who, like Olmert was charged with a shopping list of crimes, and like Olmert, he was acquitted on most but convicted on a relatively minor one. Then there was Aryeh Deri…exactly the same thing (another “uppity” Sefardi), then there was Yitzhak Mordechai (another Sefardi) …they got him on rape even though the compainant tried to withdraw the charges. Rape is harder to prove which means he was very honest in his business dealings because they didn’t find anything to charge him with there), then there was Ezer Weizman, accused of receiving bribes…he was President and Shimon Peres wanted that job very badly, like he wanted Rabin’s in 1977. Weizman was not charged even though he got 10 times as much as Deri, but not being Sefardi they satisfied themselves with his resignation. Then there was Omri Sharon, whose being charged increased his enthusiasm for destroying Gush Katif so they would go easy on him. After that there was Katzav , another Sefardi, who had the gall to defeat Peres for President after Weizman resigned, but Peres still wanted the job so they found “Aleph” to accuse him of rape (again, he must be very clean in his financial dealings, otherwise they would have used that instead). Then there was Haim Ramon, who unlike the others was a born and bred MAPAI man, so that would normally make him immune to prosecution, but he fell out with Dorit Beinish so they decided to go after him and found a girl who was COERCED and threatened into bringing charges against him even though she said she didn’t want to. Finally there was Olmert.
      Note, BTW, that almost all are ex-right wingers.
      Stalin and the NKVD would be proud of this continuation of their legacy of show trials

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