The Holyland trial against former prime minister Ehud Olmert and 16 other
defendants was turned upside down on Tuesday as the state prosecutor announced a
new list of witnesses that it planned to call in light of the continued
hospitalization of the state’s main witness.
“S.D.,” as the state’s main
witness is known under a gag order, was hospitalized last Wednesday. The
expectation is that he will be released in the near future, following completing
various tests. Meanwhile, it is still unclear what caused S.D.’s medical
On Monday, Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen had
ordered that the case should move forward in a new format in light of S.D.’s
Presuming S.D. would be capable of continuing his
testimony starting Thursday, the court ordered that he would only have to
testify before noon. From noon until 8 p.m., the prosecution would have to move
forward with its case, calling its other witnesses.
The trial, halted
since S.D.’s hospitalization, involves one of the largest bribery and fraud
schemes in the country’s history.
It involves public officials moving a
large deluxe residential housing project forward in Jerusalem while overlooking
various building and zoning regulations.
Prior to S.D.’s current health
crisis, the trial had focused entirely on his testimony, given four days a week
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This earlier schedule was a compromise between the
state and the court. The state had originally requested testimony in the
mornings only, in light of the obvious medical problems of S.D., who walks with
The court had initially wanted S.D. to testify all day long, even
into the evening. In some early hearings, S.D. pleaded with the court to stop
his testimony in the early afternoon, usually to be rebuffed and chided by the
judge to try to push forward a bit longer.
Eventually, after around three
exchanges between the judge and S.D., the judge would relent and permit S.D. to
finish the day early.
Judge Rozen has repeatedly emphasized the
importance of pushing the envelope in holding trial proceedings almost every day
for much longer hours than is usual in the courts.
Typically, hearings in
the court end by or before 5 p.m. Rozen has said that the case is so
huge, with 16 defendants and massive amounts of witnesses and documents, that
there is no choice but to move forward as fast as possible, or it will never
S.D.’s hospitalization is a major challenge to Rozen’s goal of and
some might see his order to skip to the more ancillary witnesses as an
Usually, ancillary witnesses would not be called until
all of the 16 defendants’ defense attorneys had an opportunity to cross-examine
Certainly from the defendants’ side of the aisle, it would not be
unexpected if objections are voiced, since S.D. testified against them for