Former prime minister Ehud Olmert rejected all allegations of corruption during
his second day of testimony in the Holyland trial Tuesday.
At one point
during the proceedings, Judge David Rozen accused Olmert’s former bureau chief
Shula Zaken of being dishonest about whether she had gotten funds from the
state’s main witness as a bribe for Olmert, or for herself.
that she had been “lying, or – excuse me – not telling the
Olmert’s lawyer Ro’i Blechner had been asking a series of
wide-ranging questions in order to plug ancillary holes in the case, when he
indirectly referenced Zaken’s statements to police while reading through various
Addressing the statements, Olmert acknowledged that he had
“noted a ‘change’ in her story,” but defended Zaken, saying that she had been
“under pressure.” Rozen responded, “So you are saying, you agree that she lied,
but we should excuse her because it was under pressure?” Earlier, the former
prime minister denied having any connection to bribes which his brother Yossi
The state’s main witness, Shmuel Duchner, who died in
March, had said in his testimony earlier this year that he had given Yossi NIS
500,000 at Olmert’s request.
Yossi himself gave muddled testimony about
the incident in May, hurting his brother’s case and prompting the prosecution to
claim that he lied for his brother.
In Olmert’s testimony, he distanced
himself from his brother. “Yossi tried to defend one person, himself, not me. He
has caused me great pain,” the former prime minister said Tuesday.
claimed he had no idea of any connection between Duchner and his brother,
attacking the state’s main witness as a “pathological liar, which he himself
admitted in court.”
Regarding lies told by his brother during testimony,
Olmert said that on one point Yossi had remained consistent: that the former
prime minister “did not know Yossi was getting money from Duchner.”
state had claimed that US businessman Morris Talansky, the state’s star witness
in the separate Jerusalem corruption trial against Olmert, gave Yossi $30,000 at
Olmert’s request. The former prime minister denied his involvement in the
matter, and rejected the accusation that he had repeatedly offered financial aid
to his brother through third parties, while being careful not to leave a
Olmert told the court that Talansky was close to
him, and had legitimately given him money for 11 years, and that therefore the
“small matter of $30,000” given to his brother was not something he would be
He said it would have been “perfectly legal” for Talansky to
give his brother money, because Talansky was a US citizen who had “nothing to
gain” from Olmert, whereas Duchner would have been looking for Olmert’s help in
advancing the Holyland real estate project.
Next, Olmert spoke about what
he referred to as attempts by Duchner, prior to the case, to extort money out of
him and other defendants in the case to secure Duchner’s commitment not to go to
He recounted how Holyland investor Avigdor Kellner had
met with him and tried to convince him to pay large funds to Duchner to keep him
Olmert said he had told Kellner that “I never received a penny”
from Duchner and that paying him would just make “me look guilty.” He added that
“Duchner could do whatever he wanted,” but Olmert would not pay him
Asked why he did not complain to the police about Duchner’s
alleged extortion, he said that “at first, I wanted to” but that his lawyer Eli
Zohar advised him not to, due to the many ongoing investigations against him and
the hostile posture which the police was taking against him.
also cross-examined by the prosecution, which tried to box him in by juxtaposing
a prior statement to police that he did not see Duchner often, with evidence
that Olmert invited Duchner to more events – including family events – than
other project managers that Olmert said he was close with.
responded to the allegations by arguing that each event had many invitees and
that simply inviting Duchner did not prove that they were close or that he had
The prosecution also pressed Olmert to explain why he
denied receiving political contributions from Duchner, when Zaken admitted that
Olmert received them and knew about it.
Olmert said that he had not
remembered the fact until he was shown documentary proof, and that the amounts
were so small – in the thousands of shekels, not the millions that Duchner
claimed – as to be insignificant.
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