Defense attorneys attack reliability of Holyland witness

Lawyers protest the frequency with which the state tries to allow witness, S.D., to review his previous testimony to the police.

July 10, 2012 02:37
2 minute read.
Le projet holyland : un espace hotelier

Holyland. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Defense attorneys attacked what they called the faulty memory of the state’s witness as the Holyland trial continued on Monday, during which “S.D.” elaborated on his involvement in arranging buyers for different parts of the project.

The Holyland trial, which deals with the large Jerusalem construction project of the same name, is a massive corruption case involving allegations against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner and 13 other defendants.

Clashes between the state’s attorneys and defense attorneys over the method of S.D.’s testimony continued during the hearing.

Throughout the week-and-a-half of testimony by the state’s witness, known only as S.D. due to a gag order, he has remembered most of what occurred in the almost 15 years that he was involved in the project. He has, however, often been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of detail necessary to prove the state’s case against a large number of defendants, many of whom were involved in disparate aspects of the project and at different times.

To try to make its case flow better, the state has frequently resorted to interjecting to provide S.D. with missing details and has asked to “refresh his memory” by showing him his prior testimony before the police. These are permitted legal tactics for helping witnesses recall details, but one with limits that the state has pushed.

Defense attorneys continued to protest the frequency with which the state tried to allow S.D. to review his previous testimony to the police, arguing that if he cannot remember so many details without assistance, the veracity of his testimony itself is questionable.

The defense attorneys also objected to what they described as S.D.’s “hearsay” or secondhand statements about the corporation Holyland Park’s operations, when he has only claimed in general to have worked for Holyland Corporation and Holyland Tourism corporation.

The attorneys for the defendants continue to be frustrated with the pace of the trial: The state has the floor with its witness and the defense attorneys can object to questions but not yet cross-examine him.

In terms of the substance of S.D.’s testimony, the state’s witness discussed how he facilitated getting buyers and large financial institutions involved with Holyland project transactions.

S.D. took credit for drafting Bank Leumi into investing in the project even though it had, until then, left investing in real estate largely to rival Bank Hapoalim.

During Monday’s hearing, S.D. also recounted his negotiations with the various investors in the Holyland project regarding his compensation for arranging bribes, buyers and generally making sure the project moved forward.

At one point, S.D. asked for an advance payment of $240,000, but only received $160,000, possibly foreshadowing some of the later tensions which eventually led him to turn against his former business colleagues and allies.

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