The attorney general and state prosecutor on Monday lashed out at comments made over the weekend by former prime minister Ehud Olmert as “nonsense,” “unfounded,” and as far from reality as “east is from west.”
In his first interview since being released from prison for accepting bribes and obstructing justice — broadcast by Keshet TV on Saturday evening — Olmert downplayed his own offenses and complained about “crazy persecution.” He attacked law enforcement chiefs working at the time, including then-attorney general Menachem “Meni” Mazuz — now a Supreme Court judge — Moshe Lador, then state prosecutor, and former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.
Following up with an interview on Sunday with the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Olmert accused Lador of having “committed serious criminal offenses.” Lador, the former premier charged, treated him, after just one hour of questioning, as “a defendant that needed to sit in the dock, rather than a suspect who is given the presumption of innocence.”
While talking about Mazuz, Olmert cited what he claimed was an “over-eagerness that leads the prosecution to make inappropriate decisions,” which “definitely exists, and it was definitely there in my case.”
Hitting back on Monday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said, “It’s impossible, at this respectable gathering of the heads of law enforcement not to relate to comments by the former prime minister, Ehud Olmert.”
“These are comments that demand condemnation,” he added, speaking at a gathering for the outgoing head of police investigations and intelligence, Meni Yitzhaki. The courts, he continued, had issued “unequivocal factual and legal rulings about [Olmert’s] behavior.”
“The distance between Mr. Olmert’s statements about the conduct of the law enforcement system in his interrogation and the handling of the cases against him in court, and the manner in which things actually took place in reality, is as far as reality as east is from west,” Mandelblit said. “It would have been better if these unfounded statements had never been uttered. ”
Shai Nitzan, the state prosecutor, said, “Investigations in the State of Israel are opened because of suspicions that criminal acts have been committed. That was the case with investigations opened in relation to Mr. Olmert — where the opening of the cases was approved by the attorney general and state prosecutor of the time, after they found that there was a suspicion that crimes had been committed, suspicions that, at the end of the investigation and court case, turned out to have been well founded, beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The offices of the attorney general, the state prosecutor, and the police were driven by a “professional ethos of law enforcement and protecting the integrity of the state,” Nitzan continued, blasting Olmert’s comments as “unfounded” and “nonsense.”
“How is it that Ehud Olmert, a criminal convicted of bribery and breach of trust, who has just emerged from the prison gates, allows himself to denigrate and defame honest, senior officials in the law enforcement system, without any basis, and through doing so harm the public’s trust?”
Olmert, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, and who was released from prison last summer after serving 16 months for accepting bribes and obstructing justice, is promoting his new autobiography.