Judge David Rosen, who presided over the Holyland trial in which former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of receiving bribes, was asked on Wednesday about the particularly harsh language he used when sentencing Olmert to six years in prison.
Rosen had described Olmert’s corruption as a “malignant crime” and said that “bribery offenses contaminate the public sector”. He used the word “traitor” to describe a public official who takes bribes.
Speaking at the conference of the Israel Bar Association in Eilat, Rosen clarified that he stood behind everything he said and did not regret it.
“Everything I had to say I wrote [in the verdict], and if I am asked to add anything, I will say that so I stand by what I wrote,” he said.
“I do not take it personally. Criticism is fine,” added Rosen, referring to those who expressed their surprise at the harsh language.
Rosen also address the unusual situation that occurred in the courtroom during the sentencing hearing for Olmert’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, whereby Rosen allowed her to testify against Olmert without the former premier or his attorneys present. Olmert’s lawyer, Eli Zohar, hinted earlier this week that Rosen’s actions had violated Olmert’s rights.
“All that happened there was that the parties were speaking in an attempt to persuade me to accept the plea bargain [with Zaken]. I had questions, should I not have asked them?” he said.
"It had nothing to do with Mr. Olmert. His trial had ended completely and he was sentenced,” continued Rosen. “I'm not responsible for the public repercussions. I am responsible for putting out a judgment, and when a defendant comes and asks that I accept a plea bargain and I have questions, how can I not ask them? If I do not ask, how will I know?”