The Jerusalem District Court refused on Tuesday to accept the request of the
prosecution in former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s corruption trial to declare
Olmert’s longtime friend and former lawyer Uri Messer a hostile
The prosecuting lawyer from the Jerusalem District Attorney’s
Office, Uri Korb, requested that Messer be declared hostile after a week of him
testifying in the Investment Center case.
Korb said Messer’s testimony in
the courtroom was vastly different than the statements he had made to police
investigators, characterizing it as a “developing version,” based on
Korb said Messer lied when he took the stand, and
also lied when he was questioned by the police.
“He began by stating that
he remembered certain events taking place, and now he’s saying that he believes
that was the case. It may seem like a small difference, but it is deeply
meaningful and shows a pattern,” Korb said.
Messer's attorneys, Shimon
Dolan and Dror Matityahu, responded to the allegations against him, saying that
“Messer gave his version of the case before the courts based on fact, gave them
according to the best of his memory and will continue to do so. His evidence is
clear and balanced that does not contradict past statements, and we therefore
regret the prosecution’s chosen position.”
adviser Amir Dan said, “The prosecution has a technique that they keep using
again and again. When they call up a witness whose testimony does not perfectly
fit with the narrative that the prosecution is trying to establish, they
immediately call them a hostile witness. It’s time that the prosecution
understand that the actual facts, as they occurred, are also an option, and not
only the made-up stories that appear in the charge sheet.”
allegedly granted favors to Messer, who, in statements last week in court, said
that he helped Olmert “without compensation,” and that he simply held Olmert’s
funds – at times amounts reaching hundreds of thousands of shekels – in
Dan had said that according to Messer’s statements, it was proven
that “there was no secret cashbox, as has been claimed.”
Messer said that one of the witnesses for the prosecution, former head of the
Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry's Investment Center, Shmuel Mordechai,
should be prosecuted as a hostile witness after he threatened to take revenge on
the former prime minister.
“After he left, Mordechai sent me messages
[saying] that he still had a score to settle with Olmert – and testified to that
under oath,” Messer told the court.
While the judges ruled out declaring
him hostile at the time of the request – a move that would mean that they rely
more heavily on his testimony to the police – the issue will be revisited when
Messer takes the witness stand again on Thursday.