Risby-Raz confirms Olmert told her how to book flights

Risby-Raz cries on the stand, reiterated her previous claims that she had “no idea” that the Olmert family’s travels were funded by the Rishon Tours, but eventually confesses that Olmert and Zaken told her of the arrangement.

September 14, 2010 03:53
2 minute read.
Rishon Tours witness Rachel Risby-Raz.

311_Risby-raz. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Rachel Risby-Raz broke under intense examination by Prosecutor Uri Korb in the Rishon Tours corruption trial on Monday, confirming statements she had made during the police investigation of the affair in which she stated that former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his bureau chief Shula Zaken were responsible for determining which organizations would provide funding for Olmert’s flights abroad.

Risby-Raz, Olmert’s former foreign relations coordinator, testified that Zaken was aware of overfunding from charity organizations for flights but said she could not testify as to Olmert’s awareness of the discrepancies.

Throughout Monday’s testimony at the Jerusalem District Court, Prosecutor Uri Korb focused on trying to make Risby-Raz admit that she knew that financing for Olmert’s private travels was provided by “spare funds” accumulated by the company.

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Korb hammered the witness by reading her transcripts of her police interrogation, in which she had said that both Zaken and the owners of Rishon Tours were aware of the arrangement.

Risby-Raz cried on the stand, but reiterated her previous claims that she had “no idea” that the Olmert family’s travels were funded by the company, other than one trip to Greece.

“My attorney referred me to that testimony, and I was in shock that I said that,” said Risby-Raz, arguing that she had been confused under intense police interrogation when she said that she supposes that Olmert knew about the travel slush fund at Rishon Tours, which he allegedly amassed by doublebilling organizations for overseas flights.

Olmert’s defense attorneys have argued that Olmert was completely unaware of any such scheme. While being questioned two years ago, Korb revealed, Risby-Raz had said that she supposed that Olmert knew of the practice after he examined tables that she had prepared regarding the flights in advance of meetings with Rishon Tours representatives.

“Of course I received instructions,” Risby-Raz had said under interrogation.

“What do you think – I decided by myself who funded what?” But on the stand Monday, Risby-Raz argued that during the interrogation, the nearhomonym Hebrew words for “instruction” and “discount” had been confused..

Nevertheless, in the end, Risby-Raz said that both Olmert and Zaken had told her how to operate in booking the international flights.

Last week Risby-Raz was declared a hostile witness on grounds that testimony she had given in court contradicted statements she had made to police two years ago during her interrogation.

Rebbeca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.

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