Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, relieved at his acquittal on Tuesday at the end of a lengthy trial, thanked the courts for the manner in which they dealt with his case.
“There are judges in Jerusalem,” Olmert declared, quoting a well-known statement by former prime minister Menachem Begin.
Speaking to members of the press after the verdict, Olmert said that the final result — his acquittal on the two more serious charges brought against him — honors the Israeli legal system.
“I don’t want to thank the court for its decision. It is not a personal thing,” Olmert said. “I do want to thank the court for the way it handled the proceedings over the past four years.”
Olmert took the opportunity to highlight his acquittal on charges that he received envelopes stuffed with dollars from US supporter Moshe Talansky.
“There were no envelopes, there never were any envelopes, the court decided conclusively that there were no envelopes,” he said. “Just drop it now.”
Concerning charges that he double-billed for travel charges in what became known as the Rishon Tours affair, Olmert made it clear that the matter was now closed.
“The Rishon Tours affair has been wiped clean,” he said. “None of the things that they attributed to me were there.”
He said it had now been established that he had not defrauded a series of institutions including the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum over the affair, and noted that witnesses from those institutions had testified on his behalf.
Regarding the verdict in the Investment Center affair in which he was found guilty of breach of trust, Olmert said he accepted the court’s decision but stressed that he had made a procedural error, rather than committing any deliberate acts of corruption.
“I accept the court’s decision and I will learn the lessons of this decision,” he said. He expressed his regret at the guilty verdict handed down to his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken.
Zaken was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust in the Rishon Tours case, having maintained her silence under investigation.
“Regarding the responsibilities of those who brought the charges,” Olmert said, in a reference to the question of whether it had been appropriate to charge him in the first place, “that’s up to them to consider.”
He promised that Israelis would be hearing more from him in the near future. “This won’t be the last that you see of me in the coming days,” he said, concluding, “The process has ended the way it should have ended.”
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