Messer shown video footage to prove he ‘lied’ in court

Long time friend of former PM accuses the prosecution of attempting to humiliate him during Olmert's corruption trial.

April 1, 2011 03:35
2 minute read.
Uri Messer

Uri Messer 311. (photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)

Uri Messer, former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s longtime friend and onetime lawyer, accused the prosecution of attempting to humiliate him on Thursday, the final day of state witness testimony in Olmert’s corruption trial.

Messer was livid at the state attorneys for airing video footage of his questioning by police and accusing him of having lied to the court.

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“Sure I’m angry,” Messer said.

“What justification was there for the prosecution to show that footage other than to humiliate me?” Messer claimed he had been ill and under medication when he was interrogated by police, and that he was under severe emotional stress.

“I have good cause to be angry. It is impossible for the prosecutor to tell my lawyer that I gave ‘heroic’ testimony one day and then, after cross examination, to say I lied,” he complained.

Prosecutor Uri Korb said he needed to show the footage to prove that Messer had been lying when he testified earlier in the week that he did not precisely recall having given envelopes full of money to Olmert, money that allegedly came from American fund-raiser Morris Talansky.

The video showed Messer telling investigators he recalled two or three occasions on which he gave envelopes directly to Olmert, and confirming that Olmert knew there was money inside. The footage, according to Korb, contradicted Messer’s court testimony in which he said he assumed he had given Olmert money, but could not remember for certain.

In previous testimony, Messer confirmed that he had kept money for Olmert and arranged to transfer it to him in coordination with key Olmert aide Shula Zaken, but claimed he had held the money in trust for Olmert as his confidant and not, as the prosecution characterized it, as a “secret stash.”

On Tuesday, Korb asked the court to declare Messer a hostile witness because of testimony that was evasive and contradictory.

The judges refused his request, but allowed Korb to confront Messer with the video footage.

Olmert’s spokesman, Amir Dan, said the prosecution had “pulled a mean trick” and taken advantage of a publication ban to show carefully edited footage of Messer that served its cause, but failed to show footage that exposed Messer’s physical and mental condition at the time of the investigation, claiming it breached his right to privacy.

Dan said Messer had told police what they wanted to hear simply to get the investigation over with.

“In his testimony to the court, Messer said police had pressured him in order to frame Olmert, and now it was continuing to humiliate him,” said Dan.

Olmert himself is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes at the end of May.

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