Testimony Begins in Former PM's Trial

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remained confident that the testimony phase of his trial would exonerate him of any wrongdoing.

"This is court and here the facts will be clarified, here it will be heard what we know and what we believe and I am sure the results will confirm what I said at the start of the process," Olmert said in a statement prepared for the court.

"Several months ago, when I came here for the first time, I said that I came as an innocent man. Today, the bombastic declarations, vivid descriptions and personal slander, which were part of the climate among the public during the past two years, comes to an end. We are now in court. The facts will be clarified here," the statement read.

The session began with Jerusalem District Court attorney Eli Abarbanel summarizing the charges against Olmert and co-defendant Shula Zaken, his former bureau chief.

The charges, which include bribery, breach of trust, fraud, and tax evasion, stem from three investigations: Rishon Tours, Investment Center, and Cash Envelopes.

In the opening session, Abarbanel established the validity of the records, kept by Zaken, of the large cash transfers from New York Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, totaling $600,000.

Zaken kept a computerized "diary" of the transfers to Olmert and to attorney Uri Messer, his close friend and business partner.

Messer kept large quantities of cash in his office safe, later transferring some of it to a safety deposit box.

"The dairy was authentic. The entries were recorded in real time without any attempt to twist the facts for reasons of self-interest," Abarbanel stated to the court.

Olmert maintains that the funds were legal contributions that were used to finance his campaigns.

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