The Holyland Tower in Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Judge David Rozen on Monday shocked both the state and the defense by rejecting
a request for a month-long postponement of the Holyland trial, following the
death of the state’s main witness on Friday.
The postponement was
requested in order to have sufficient time to prepare a new batch of witnesses
The Tel Aviv District Court judge ordered the state to call
its next witness on Tuesday and said the case would continue moving at its
breakneck pace of four days of hearings each week.
The ruling was
surprising as many judges treat adjournment requests, especially after an
extreme circumstance such as the sudden death of the main witness, with
It was also surprising because the request was
supported by both the state and defense attorneys, including one of the leading
attorneys, Giora Aderet.
S.D., as the main witness is referred to under a
gag order still in place despite his death, was laid to rest on Sunday after
multiple hospitalizations and a long history of poor health.
indicated that although it understood the request had some justification, the
state had a “bank” of witnesses prepared for just these circumstances because
several times in the past it has had to call other witnesses during multiple
The court added that S.D. had planned to
take a break from testifying in the near future for some medical procedures, so
the state had even anticipated calling other witnesses around this
Still, the decision makes both the state’s job and the defense
attorneys’ jobs harder.
Many of the events in the case go back a decade
or more and the state must now rush to refresh the memory of the other
witnesses, who may each be testifying about a small part of the case and may not
easily recall all of what they told the state or police during earlier rounds of
The defense attorneys will not even know until later Monday
who the state will be calling to testify on Tuesday, and will need to rush to
prepare cross-examinations in very little time.
After the ruling, the
court also held a shortened day of hearings, listening to testimony from Arnon
Rochkovsky regarding the alleged bribery charges against former chairman of Bank
Hapoalim and Israel Salt Industries Dan Dankner and former Israel Lands
Authority head Yaakov Efrati.
The court’s ruling knocks out rumors which
had circulated Sunday that the state might ask for an even longer delay to weigh
the possibility of completely changing its approach to the case.
ruling might also indicate that the court will not look kindly on motions by the
defendants for a mistrial and wishes to continue with the case as
Another sign of this possibility was that Dankner filed a
request to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to cancel the case against him, but
did not make a similar request to the court.
Dankner is one of eight
defendants who did not get to cross-examine S.D. before he died (though another
eight defendants did crossexamine S.D.), and can therefore legally try to claim
that his right to a fair trial has been irrevocably harmed.
also announced that it will decide on Tuesday a request to remove the gag order
on S.D.’s identity.
The decision is an indication that the court will
remove the gag order, as the court ignored the state’s request that the order
remain in place at least until S.D.’s family has completed its shiva mourning