The trial of former prime minister Ehud Olmert is due to resume in Jerusalem
District Court on Monday following a two-month summer break.
recessed on a shrill note, when the defense accused the state prosecution of
having coached a witness, Hadar Saltzman-Shifoni, by giving her a document
drafted by the prosecution that allegedly summarized the answers she had given
to police during the investigation.
Saltzman-Shifoni works for Rishon
Tours, the company whose services Olmert used when he allegedly double-billed the
state and various public organizations and charities for trips he made abroad on
Members of the former prime minister’s defense team,
attorneys Eli Zohar, Navit Negev and Nevot Tel-Tzur, said that the prosecution
had used the document to introduce incriminating statements against Olmert that
Saltzman- Shifoni did not make during police questioning.
testimony, the prosecution informed the defense that it had held a number of
“refresher” sessions with Saltzman-Shifoni to prepare her for testifying. It
presented Olmert’s lawyers with two pages of text that, according to the
defense, indicated differences between what Saltzman- Shifoni had told police
and what she was being told to say in court by the prosecution.
her court testimony, it emerged that the document that had been prepared for her
totaled 32 pages.
On June 23, Zohar filed a criminal complaint against
the prosecutors, accusing them of obstructing justice, suborning a witness,
harassing a witness, abusing their office, fraud and breach of faith, all
violations of the Penal Code.
Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel
said that the defense complaint was an attempt toward “dramatic but empty moves
in and out of court.”
However, District Court President Moussia Arad did
not see it that way.
“If you wanted to prepare a document because the
witness was unwilling to read the entire text, then quote accurately from the
text,” she told attorney Uri Korb, the main prosecutor.
permitted to do so. But why draw up a document like this? How do you come to
such a thing? On the face of it, everything you have said [in defense of the
document] fails to tally with the document itself.”
A Justice Ministry
spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post
that the investigation, which had been
handed over to Deputy Attorney-General for Criminal Affairs Rachel Gottlieb, was
still under way.
Olmert is on trial for three major cases of corruption
that allegedly took place during his years as mayor of Jerusalem and
Industry, Trade and Labor: the Talansky affair, in which he is accused
receiving money from a New York Jewish businessman without reporting it
authorities; the Investment Center affair, in which he is charged with
favors to his longtime friend and personal attorney, Uri Messer; and the
His trial started off with hearings on the Investment
Center matter and several lesser charges.
Messer was said to have been
involved in both the Investment Center and Talansky affairs, but under
interrogation, he turned against his old friend. He was due to appear in
as a witness for the prosecution.
With the trial already under way, the
Holyland affair exploded onto the public stage. It involved many
including Olmert, who was suspected of having accepted bribes to enlarge
permitted size of the residential housing project in south Jerusalem,
Messer, who was suspected of having passed the bribes to Olmert.
point, the prosecution asked the court to suspend the hearings relating
Investment Center, as well as to the Talansky charges, which were next
because both might have been linked to the Holyland affair.
lay in the possibility that Messer might be indicted for the Holyland
and, due to the linkage, indicted retroactively in the Investment Center
Talansky affairs, which would affect his status as a prosecution
As a result, the trial shifted its focus to the Rishon Tours
affair, in which Messer was not involved.
Last month, police recommended
that charges be brought against Olmert, but not against Messer, in
with the Holyland affair. If State Attorney Moshe Lador formally
state will be able to resume the Investment Center and Talansky trials,
concurrently with the Rishon Tours hearings.