Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was in the US at the time the state’s main
witness in the Holyland trial, Shmuel Duchner, said the two met in Jerusalem and
Olmert asked him for a bribe, according to a statement by Olmert’s legal team on
The bribe involved Duchner giving Olmert’s brother, Yossi, NIS
500,000. If true, the contradiction would be compounded by the fact that the
evidence Olmert is presenting is taken from the state’s case against him in the
Rishon Tours Affair, important evidence which it may have overlooked.
Holyland trial is a case against Olmert and fifteen other defendants for bribery
and fraud relating to smoothing over legal and zoning violations for the
Holyland project in Jerusalem.
Olmert’s legal team took the unusual step
of releasing the evidence to the press prior to even presenting it in
Usually, lawyers prefer to surprise witnesses in court with such
evidence before making it public.
However, since Duchner – known as S.D.
under a previous gag order – cannot be surprised, having died on Friday from
chronic health issues, and the defense attorneys are campaigning to pressure the
state into dropping the charges against their clients, they made the evidence
In past hearings, Duchner had testified and presented his notes
showing that he had met with Olmert on October 3, 2002, and Olmert had asked for
the bribe to help his brother, who was in serious debt.
Duchner had even
been pressed about whether he was sure about the date of the meeting – and he
vehemently stuck to his story.
However, in the state’s case against
Olmert in the Rishon Tours Affair, part of the Jerusalem corruption trial, the
state had argued that Olmert double-billed a ticket to fly to the US on October
1, 2002, in the amount of $5,658.
In addition to this claim and the
evidence the state presented regarding the flight, Olmert’s defense team has an
official document showing Olmert did not return to Israel until October 5,
If correct, the evidence would prove that Olmert and Duchner could
not have met on October 3, 2002, and according to the defense, would also prove
that Duchner made up the meeting and wrote false notes to himself to support his
It is noteworthy that under questioning, Duchner admitted
that the document he gave the state was a photocopy and not an
That does not confirm the document was falsified, but it does
raise some questions in and of itself about the document’s veracity.
Dan, Olmert’s spokesman, slammed the prosecution, saying the evidence “proves
the lack of seriousness with which the prosecution collected its evidence, that
they did not even check details that were in their hands and were known to
Dan added that this evidence was just another example of “lying
and falsifications by the state’s witness exposed in the court
The state did not respond, generally preferring to respond
to such issues only in court.