Olmert acquittal a blow for State Attorney’s Office (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 07/11/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
Legal experts agreed on Tuesday that the Jerusalem District Court’s
acquittal of former prime minister Ehud Olmert on two of the largest
charges against him has dealt a major blow to the State Attorney’s
The verdict is particularly damaging to State Attorney Moshe Lador,
who very publicly pledged to take personal responsibility for the
case against the former prime minister.
Significantly, in 2008, before Olmert was indicted, Lador pushed for
New York businessman Moshe Talansky to give pre-trial testimony in
When Olmert’s lawyers fought that decision in court earlier that
year, the state attorney told the Supreme Court that without such
testimony from Talansky, the state may not be able to muster a case
against the former prime minister.
In that hearing, Olmert’s attorneys slammed Lador’s move as “creating
a situation that would leave the prosecution no choice but to put the
prime minister on trial.”
Immediately after Tuesday’s verdict, Lador did not issue a statement,
but Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel told reporters that his
office was “surprised” by the court ruling.
However, in a rare move on Tuesday afternoon, Lador held a press
conference defending his decision to indict Olmert, saying there had
been reasonable grounds to do so and that if the State Attorney’s
Office had not pressed charges it would have failed to carry out the
task assigned to it.
But calls by MKs as well as Olmert’s lawyers and friends throughout
Tuesday for Lador to resign over the matter served as a reminder of
how aggressively the state attorney pursued the indictment against
the former prime minister.
Earlier this year, while the trial was still ongoing, Olmert sued
Lador for defamation, after the state attorney described Olmert’s
acceptance of a loan from American businessman Joe Almaliah
as “extraordinarily scandalous” in a 2011 newspaper interview.
Judges in the Tel Aviv District Court harshly condemned Lador’s
conduct, including after the State Attorney’s Office demanded he have
immunity against prosecution. Olmert withdrew the suit last week
after the state attorney formally apologized.
Prof. Yoram Shachar, a criminal law expert from the Interdisciplinary
Center in Herzliya, said Olmert’s exoneration should prompt the
prosecution to conduct a major heshbon nefesh, or soul searching.
“The State Attorney’s Office now needs to take a good, hard look at
its campaign against government corruption,” Shachar told The
Olmert’s exoneration has significant political ramifications as well
as legal ones, since the former premier has now been acquitted of the
very same charges that forced his resignation in 2009.
Shachar said the prosecution’s method of uprooting corruption “from
the bottom up” had tended to result in minor officials being
convicted – like Shula Zaken, Olmert’s former bureau chief in the
Rishon Tours affair – because it was easier to prove the charges
“The prosecution should stick to clear-cut cases, where the facts are
easy to prove, and avoid bringing more trivial cases to court,”
Shachar said, adding that the country’s law enforcement has
been “over zealous” in bringing corruption cases to trial.
He added: “The State Attorney’s Office in Israel has considerable
discretion in prosecuting cases, and they should use it, especially
when dealing with major political figures.”
Instead of bringing every corruption allegation to court, Shachar
said the country needs to put in place different measures to guard
against petty corruption, including of the type the prosecution
alleged in the Rishon Tours case.
The state comptroller could implement tighter controls on public
officials’ management of public spending, and government offices
could introduce stricter disciplinary procedures to deal with such
matters, he suggested.
Meanwhile, Shachar praised Jerusalem District Court President Moussia
Arad and judges Jacob Zaban and Moshe Sobel for what he called
a “courageous” decision that went against the tide of public
“The judges showed that there is power in the law, by rising above
politics and media noise to give their verdict,” he added.
However, other legalists said the prosecution had done its job
correctly by bringing charges against the former prime minister.
Dr. Chaim Shine, an expert in the philosophy of law at the Sha’are
Mishpat College of Legal Studies, argued that the state should now
move to “strengthen” the prosecution to help it in its war on
“The court said that in the case of the Investment Center affair,
Ehud Olmert acted against the interests of his government position,”
Shine told the Post. “In the other cases, the court ruled that there
is a thin line separating deceit and criminal deceit, and it was not
proven that [Olmert] crossed that line.” Shine noted that the court
had not criticized the prosecution at all.
Meanwhile, Prof. Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, said the ultimate significance of Olmert’s
acquittal would be decided by the media and not by the courts.
“There will be a media war, and a lot of spin,” he said, adding that
he believed Olmert would continue to be involved in politics. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/11/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY