Olmert trial postponed over new scandal


The corruption trial of Ehud Olmert has been postponed for a month after the arrest of the ex-prime minister’s former aide.

During a hearing on Thursday, the Jerusalem District Court rejected a motion filed by Olmert’s defense attorney to stop the trial completely until the completion of an investigation into Olmert’s former aide, which came to light Wednesday when a media ban on the investigation was partially lifted.

Attorney Uri Messer, who worked for Olmert when he was prime minister, was arrested Tuesday for alleged corruption in dealings with various real estate projects in Jerusalem. Several others, including Jerusalem’s former municipal engineer, were also arrested. The charges involve accepting bribes to advance various construction projects around the city.

Last year, prosecutors announced that Messer would not be indicted in the corruption scandals for which Olmert himself was indicted.

The Olmert trial was postponed until May 6 due to “special circumstances,” at which time the trial hearings will begin.

Olmert is currently traveling abroad, according to reports; he has not been ordered to return to Israel despite rumors that he also will be charged in the scandal involving Messer. Olmert will return at the end of next week as scheduled, his spokesman told reporters.

Community Briefs


Gaming Commission Postpones MoskowitzVote

The California Gambling Control Commission again has postponed a vote on Dr. Irving Moskowitz’s permanent license request for his Hawaiian Gardens Casino card club, which peace activists decry as a funding tool for West Bank settlers.

“There has been more significant opposition to this than there has been to any other application,” said commission chief counsel Peter Melnicoe, who wants California Department of Justice gambling investigators to double-check Moskowitz’s application, whose casino-style card club now operates with a temporary, provisional license. “We plan to ask the Division of Gambling Control to clarify certain points.”

Unlike the commission’s Dec. 18 and Jan. 9 hearings in downtown Los Angeles, the Moskowitz application did not dominate the Feb. 26 hearing, with the application postponed in routine fashion and no outcry from opponents or supporters. The application is not on the commission’s two March meeting agendas.

A long activist battle has been waged against Moskowitz, a retired Long Beach doctor whose rise as a Bingo impresario radically changed tiny, poor Hawaiian Gardens in southeast Los Angeles County. Though he enjoys Hawaiian Gardens and Jewish community support, the activists’ main gripe is that Moskowitz uses part of his gambling proceeds to buy East Jerusalem land for Jewish settlers.

“We want to take a methodological approach to evaluating the complaints and the charges that have been made,” Melnicoe told The Journal. “We’re going to try to expedite this as much as we can, but at the same time we want to give consideration to the merits of the application.” — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

LAPD Members Visit Israel

Leaders in the Los Angeles Police Department, such as John Miller, commander of the Critical Incident Management Bureau; Joe Polisar, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and William Gore, special assistant to the Department of Justice in Southern California, traveled to Israel in February as participants in the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ (JINSA) Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP).

The law enforcement officials joined 14 of the most senior police chiefs, sheriffs and state police commanders in Israel to intensively study counterterrorism techniques. They were briefed on bomb disposal, the increasing sophistication of domestic terrorists, the mindset of suicide bombers and how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls and concert halls, without disrupting the enjoyment of the public.

The LEEP program is designed to establish cooperation between U.S. and Israeli law enforcement personnel and to give the U.S. law enforcement community access to the lessons learned by the Israelis in the interdiction of and response to all forms of terrorism.

The Israeli National Police hosted the JINSA group in cooperation with the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Defense Forces.

“Nothing can replicate American officials seeing these types of programs firsthand, and the systems that are put in place to deal with them,” said Steven Pomerantz, a member of JINSA’s board of advisers. — Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer

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