Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s legal team pounded the state’s main witness
in the Holyland case on Tuesday, getting him to admit that he gave documents to
the state – presented in court as evidence – that he himself
At the start of the case, the main witness, referred to only
as S.D. under a gag order, had admitted to falsifying documents and stories
against the defendants, but had said the forgeries were only in his earlier
civil action, and that everything he told the court in the criminal proceeding
Over the course of other defendants’ cross-examination of S.D.,
it was proved that he had also falsified documents used in the current criminal
proceedings against them.
But on Tuesday, in a documentary analysis which
S.D. at first resisted, but eventually gave in to, Olmert’s legal team
proved for the first time that a document which S.D. and the state had
submitted to specifically prove Olmert’s involvement in corruption surrounding
the Holyland project was a forgery.
S.D. said the document showed a 1994
request from Olmert to involve the Barzilai accounting firm in the Holyland
More specifically, S.D. testified that Olmert’s former bureau
chief Shula Zaken, also a defendant in the case, called to ask him on Olmert’s
behalf to switch accounting firms to the Barzilai firm, Olmert’s accountants, to
better coordinate moving the Holyland project forward between the
S.D.’s handwriting appeared on the document, which bore the
letterhead of one of his companies, “Amior.”
Olmert’s legal team proved
that S.D. forged the document, because the telephone number appearing on the
document could not have existed until 1996 at the earliest.
this, Olmert’s lawyers showed that the document listed a seven-digit telephone
number, whereas other official records showed that Amior had a six digit
telephone number until 1996, and only switched to seven digits then.
appeared to alternately admit that it was a forgery, suggest that the photocopy
might have been re-copied on another page at a later date, and say he had
forgotten the circumstances.
Realizing the potential damage to his
credibility resulting from the line of questioning, S.D. told the court, “I
forged documents, but not systematically.”
Not willing to let S.D. wiggle
out of this legal fire zone, Olmert lawyer Roi Belcher jumped in and asked if he
had forged documents “with the purpose of misleading the authorities,” playing
on the idea that S.D. could also be misleading the court.
that he had forged documents with that purpose in mind.
Later in the
hearing, Judge David Rozen temporarily dropped the traditional judge’s mask
regarding his thoughts on the case so far, indirectly implying that Olmert’s
lawyers had succeeded in sowing doubts in his mind about the evidence against
Rozen also made a remark to Belcher suggesting that since the
case against Olmert is weak, they could wrap it up and the court could move on
to other defendants who faced more serious evidence.
Emotions ran high
throughout the hearing, with S.D. and Belcher calling each other a “liar”
numerous times and the court having to intervene, asking the parties to refrain
from “personal attacks.”
On Sunday, Olmert had received another big break
in the case, when his lawyers revealed a list in S.D.’s diary of names of people
who received bribes – that did not include Olmert’s.
The forged document
from Tuesday’s hearing could cause the j0udge to conclude that he must now doubt
the veracity of all documents presented by S.D. against Olmert.
also exposed S.D. as either forgetting, or lying about not remembering that
Olmert had supported the Holyland project, including at public press conferences
with former tourism minister Uzi Baram, even before the earliest date when S.D.
said he bribed Olmert for his support.
The former prime minister was
again in attendance, after months of being absent, likely to watch some of the
most significant days of cross-examination of S.D. that will occur in the