Olmert's Trial Begins with Postponement

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived at the Jerusalem District Court Friday morning to begin the first-ever criminal trial against a prime minister in the history of the Jewish State.

While a request earlier this week to postpone the trial was denied, Olmert's attorneys began by asking to postpone the proceedings until April.

The court ruled to resume the trial on February 22, meeting on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for the duration of the trial.

"It's not foot-dragging," he said. "We just want the trial to be conducted in the normal way," one of Olmert's attorneys, Eli Zohar, told reporters afterward

Among the charges facing the former prime minster are fraud, breach of public trust, tax evasion and false registration of corporate documents.

Olmert maintains that he is innocent of all wrongdoing in investigations of the Rishon Tours case, the cash-stuffed envelopes case and the investment center case.

On the way into the courtroom Friday morning, Olmert told reporters that he has been the victim of "an almost inhumane three years of slander and interrogations."

"But the time has come for the facts and the facts only," he said. "I have arrived here as a completely innocent man, and I believe I'll leave here a completely innocent man."

Sheila Zaken, Olmert's former bureau chief, has been indicted with illegal wiretapping in addition to some of the same charges her former boss is facing.

Olmert laughed at the idea that he could end up with a prison sentence.

One of Olmert's attorneys, Navot Tel-Tzur, said it would doubtless be "a long and complicated trial."  Tel-Tzur said the indictment named 280 witnesses.

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