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Former prime minister proclaims innocence

June 13, 2011 at 7:15 AM
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JERUSALEM, June 13 (UPI) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is innocent of claims he defrauded his government through trips he took while prime minister.

Olmert, in a courtroom in Jerusalem, said he was unaware of an alleged bank account managed on his behalf by a Rishon Tours travel agent and he said prosecutors fabricated the charges against him.

"This is a false accusation that has no basis, for which there is no evidence. I never knew about it," Haaretz Monday quoted Olmert as saying. "'My own personal investment bank' is a fabrication of the prosecution. I didn't know that there was any such account. I had no idea. No one told me that it exists."

Olmert said the prosecution case is "tainted by dishonesty," and he denied conspiring with anyone to overcharge the government when he traveled, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"I might have known that we turned to Rishon Tours, but I don't remember it ever being a problem," Olmert said. "I also don't remember the accountant general ever indicating that there was a problem with the way we booked tickets with the travel agency."

"In a normal country, I wouldn't need his [accountant general] approval," Olmert said. "The government approved it by a majority vote and the support of the prime minister's office, and the office should have paid. Period."

Olmert's trial is scheduled to enter its sixth day Tuesday.

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