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Wednesday, July 19, 2006 

Police now investigating Olmert for his pen-bribe scandal

Yoav Yitzhak's published another report on Ehud Olmert's corruption, and has learned that the police and state attorney Menny Mazoz have been investigating him for obstructing justice:
Investigative reporter Yoav Yitzchak, who first reported the suspicions against the Prime Minister, now breaks the news of the police investigation. He says the public's right to know is paramount.

It was Yitzchak's article several weeks ago, on the (Hebrew) NFC news website he edits, that sparked a complaint with the police and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz regarding the affair. Yitzchak reports today that after the Ometz anti-corruption organization filed a complaint, Mazuz in fact ordered the police to begin a criminal investigation - and that it began a few weeks ago.

The allegations can be summed up as follows:
Olmert may be guilty of obstructing justice by removing from his house 240 expensive fountain pens that he received as bribes. A known pen-collector, Olmert allegedly received the pens from dozens of people over the course of the past few years, when he served as Mayor of Jerusalem and Minister of Trade, among other positions. The pens are worth between 1,500 and 25,000 shekels each, for a total of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The allegations further state that, over the past year, Olmert decided to hide some of the pens and remove them from his home. For this purpose, he purchased six 1,000-shekel leather pouches that can each hold 40 pens in separate compartments. The pens were packed in the pouches and removed from his home.

Earlier this year, Yitzchak reported that Olmert once acted on behalf of German businessman Alexander Tessler to have a golf course in Eilat removed from Israel Lands Authority jurisdiction. Yitzchak noted that Olmert did not succeed, but that Tessler later bought Olmert a pen valued at close to $1,750. Yitzchak says he has evidence of other pen-bribes as well.

The investigation is being conducted by the police's financial department, headed by Police Brig.-Gen. Yoav Segelovitz.

Yitzchak ends his "scoop" in which he reports on the police investigation with this explanation:
"At this time, a war is being waged against Hizbullah, and Ehud Olmert, as Prime Minister, heads the government that commands the IDF. Despite this, I feel that it is the public's right to know, and that my obligation as a reporter [obligates] me to publicize this news, even though it was kept top-secret by the the police and Attorney-General - if only to raise the possibility that Olmert is personally troubled by this investigation in a manner that is liable to affect his functioning as Prime Minister."

Arutz-7 reported three months ago that when Olmert formed his new government, he had trouble finding a working pen with which to sign his pledge to act in Israel's best interests as the head of its government. He went through four pens before he successfully affixed his name to the document.
I get the feeling that he's going to have an even harder time finding a pen with which to sign his resignation!

Yitzhak is correct of course, that no matter what's going on at the moment, the public's right to knowledge is still very important. After all, Olmert was one of the supporters of Ariel Sharon's "disengagement" and supports more withdrawals, and if so, that's one of the reasons why it's important for the public to know, so that they don't have to be fooled by him again.

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