Court Orders in Olmert Case

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Jerusalem District Court announced Tuesday that the Police National Fraud Unit submitted a petition to depose a foreign national in the investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Also on Tuesday, the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court denied a petition by media representatives to lift a gag order in the case. Justice Daniel Beeri said the order will remain in place "to avoid impairing an ongoing investigation.

At the hearing, Superintendent Iris Barak, representing the police, said it would not be appropriate to publicize the investigation as the nation prepares for Memorial Day observances.

"I don't believe that anyone would want to hear such a thing just before Memorial Day," Barak told the three-judge panel.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the media ban would continue, despite Monday's report on Army Radio alleging that the gag order would be lifted.

"The investigation is proceeding normally," Rosenfeld said. "I am unaware of any changes [to the media clampdown]," he said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen issued a statement Tuesday.

"We are well aware of public interest and need to receive information," the statement read.

"Indeed the situation in which the reigning prime minister is interrogated under caution, while no information, general lines of inquiry or the substance of the suspicions against him are released creates difficulties for the public, as well as legal-constitutional challenges," the letter stated.

"At the same time…there is vital public interest not to thwart the investigation and not to harm the chances of discovering the truth," it read, adding that the Justice Ministry would continue "to closely monitor the situation…with a view to allow, as early as possible, the release of information to the public."

Meanwhile, Olmert's former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, under house arrest through Friday, has been interrogated a fourth time. In the first three sessions, Zaken invoked her right to remain silent.

On the floor of the Knesset Monday, Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu asked legislators if the prime minister should be negotiating with the Palestinians while under investigation by the national fraud unit.

"Is it ethical that Olmert is carrying out negotiations with the Palestinians while he is under investigation?"

Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar also spoke in the Knesset plenum.

"It is inconceivable that from investigation to investigation, Olmert continues with negotiations about concessions," Sa'ar said.

"Between investigations, don't touch the lands of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. Don't you dare to place a hand on Jerusalem," he said. "It isn't one of your apartments up for sale. Don't pass on secret messages to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad that Israel is ready to leave the Golan Heights because it's not true," he said. "You don't have a majority in the house [legislature] to continue your process of unilateral concessions," Sa'ar said.

Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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