Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lawyers File Suit Demanding Olmert Step Down

Hillel Fendel

A private lawsuit has been filed demanding that the Prime Minister suspend himself, and/or that his criminal investigation be limited in time.

Two lawyers, Kiryat Ono College Law Lecturer Barak Malchiya and Arik Harush, filed the suit on Wednesday in the Supreme Court. They say they wish to save the Israeli public the injustice of protracted legal proceedings. Olmert is currently under several police criminal investigations, most acutely and recently including the case known as the Talansky Envelopes scandal. US businessman and philanthropist Moshe Talansky testified last week that he had given Olmert, then the Mayor of Jerusalem, envelopes of cash totalling $150,000 or more. Though Talansky is apparently not suspected of having accepted anything in return, this does not exonerate Olmert from not reporting the cash gifts.

Attorneys Malchiya and Harush ask that Olmert be forced into suspension or resignation until the police investigation against him is concluded. At the same time, the two request that the Attorney General and the State Prosecutor set a limit of two months, within which time the investigation must be completed.

"At present, the Prime Minister simply cannot function," Atty. Malchiya told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, "and our suit comes to put an end to this situation. It is estimated that an indictment will be handed down only four or five months from now. On the one hand, he can't function, while on the other hand, we have no idea when it will end."

What Does the Law Say?
"The law once rendered a Prime Minister unfit to carry out his duties only when he was abroad or ill," Malchiya said, "but now it leaves more room for the Attorney General to decide. Our suit maintains that the Attorney General must rule that the current situation fits the criteria rendering the Prime Minister unfit to carry out his duties, given the fact that he is facing a heavy burden of police investigations."

"We are not taking a political stance," Malchiya emphasized. "We have nothing against the Prime Minister. It's just that the situation is an impossible one, and it is causing an administrative and political stand-still."

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