(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
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.
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
“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
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