Trial against ex-Israeli PM begins

Feb. 25, 2010 at 8:42 AM
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JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Prosecutors expressed confidence Thursday evidence would prove former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was guilty of fraud, tax evasion and breach of trust.

Defense attorneys countered that the prosecution knows its evidence was inadequate to prove its case against Olmert, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Olmert's trial opened Thursday in the Jerusalem District Court. He was indicted for fraudulent receipt of goods, false registration of corporate documents, fraud, breach of trust, tax and tax evasion on three different issues.

"The accused has claimed that he did not know what was going on and that he didn't get into the details," Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel said. "We'll see that his memory is actually very good, way above average."

Among other things, Olmert, 64, is accused of being involved in a scheme to double bill for travel, illegally receiving cash payments from a Jewish-American businessman, intervening in certain business grant applications and providing false testimony to the state comptroller regarding a loan and the true worth of a pen collection.

Olmert's attorney, Eli Zohar, said, "It's hard to deal with the difficult feeling and imbalance between the scale of the investigation on the one hand and the (low) level of the accusations that we are left with on the other."

Olmert's former aide, Shula Zaken, also was on trial Thursday, the Post said. She faces charges in the travel and illegal cash investigations, as well as charges of eavesdropping on Olmert's conversations.

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