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08-15-2008, 08:18 AM
Lawyers to US witness against Olmert: Stay home


The Associated Press
Published: August 14, 2008

JERUSALEM: Lawyers for Morris Talansky have recommended that he refuse to come back to Israel to testify in a corruption case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, according to a letter released Thursday.

The American businessman already gave direct testimony and then was questioned at length by Olmert's attorneys. Talansky told the court he gave Olmert envelopes stuffed with tens of thousands of dollars before he became prime minister.

The procedure is unusual because Olmert has not been charged. Even so, Olmert has announced he will resign because of the corruption investigations.

The letter from Talansky's American lawyers, Bradley Simon and Neal Sher, noted that the Israeli investigation mirrors a probe in the United States, and by testifying further, Talansky could incriminate himself.

Therefore, the letter said, "we have advised him not to appear for further examination in Israel until such time as the U.S. grand jury matter is resolved." Talansky's response was not immediately available.

Olmert supporters said if he refuses to continue his cross-examination, this would undermines all of Talansky's testimony. But legal experts told Israeli media that all of Talansky's testimony so far is admissible, even if Olmert's lawyers do not get a chance to complete their questioning, set for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

The letter, addressed to Talansky's Israeli lawyer, said the FBI "accompanied Israeli officials during their investigation in the United States." By cooperating with the Israelis, Talansky "has placed himself in legal jeopardy in the United States," read the letter, supplied to The Associated Press by Simon's office.

Olmert is facing several corruption cases, none of them covering the time during which he has served as prime minister. He has not been indicted and has denied all wrongdoing. Even so, Olmert announced on July 30 that he will turn in his resignation after his party, Kadima, chooses a new leader in primary elections next month.

Because of Israel's complex electoral system, Olmert could remain in office until next spring despite resigning.