The state witness in the Holyland trial admitted to initially lying to police
and to inventing people involved in the scheme who did not even exist, he
testified in the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday.
Monday marked a new
stage of the trial as the defense began cross-examining S.D., as he is known
under a gag order.
Hillel Cherny’s attorney, Giora Aderet, was the first
to cross-examine S.D.
Cherny, according to S.D., was the lead investor
and benefactor in the Holyland scheme and directed who S.D. would bribe and how
high the bribes would be.
The Holyland trial involves allegations of
bribery against 16 defendants, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert, for
moving forward a major real estate project in Jerusalem where the Holyland hotel
used to stand, even as the project violated numerous zoning and building
Under cross-examination, S.D. said that “I lied” about a number of
details in an ultimately unused draft version of the indictment, a copy of which
was provided to Cherny, though it was never filed.
Aderet accused S.D. of
lying about criminal actions involving Cherny in order to extort the businessman
or at least scare him into paying him money or cooperating with the
S.D. also admitted to having invented officials on the police
force who appear as being criminally involved in the bribery and fraud scheme in
the draft of the indictment.
There were some astounding moments in which
Aderet went down a list of the alleged policemen and S.D. merely confirmed “he
doesn’t exist” to each question.
But S.D. disputed Aderet’s version of
why he had lied.
According to S.D., he merely exaggerated a mostly true
story and just wanted Cherny to join him as a state witness against the other
S.D. justified his lying, stating that his overall
story about Olmert receiving over NIS 1.5 million in bribes and regarding the
other defendants receiving bribes was all true.
He saw no problem with
lying in an initial draft of an indictment in order to try to get Cherny to “do
the right thing” and turn state’s witness.
Ultimately, S.D. admitted that
the value of the original draft of the indictment was “not worth the paper” on
which it was printed.
There were other fireworks in the legal
proceedings, as S.D. explained why he decided to approach Olmert as a candidate
for bribery and for helping move the Holyland project forward.
accusations at Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and leading lawyers of the law
firm Yigal Arnon, who had represented Olmert in prior cases.
He said that
Liberman, while still director of the Prime Minister’s Office during Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first term in the mid/late 1990s told him that
Olmert was “corrupt.”
Initially S.D. actually tried to avoid mentioning
Liberman under questioning about who told him that he could get Olmert’s
cooperation with bribes. However, under the court’s order, he relented and
mentioned Liberman as one of the people who had called Olmert
S.D. added that Yigal Arnon attorneys who had represented Olmert
told him that Olmert “loves money.”
S.D. saw these pieces of advice as an
opening to turn to Olmert as a candidate for bribery and helping with smoothing
over legal violations regarding the Holyland project.