Judge: Yossi Olmert's story supports state case

Testimony by Olmert's brother expected to be a potential lift for the state in confirming aspects of deceased state witness's story.

May 8, 2013 13:17
2 minute read.
Yossi Olmert.

YossiOlmert311. (photo credit: .)


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Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rozen surprised everyone on Tuesday, telling Yossi Olmert, the brother of former prime minister and lead defendant Ehud Olmert, that his story supported the state’s case against his brother.

Rozen told Yossi that his story in which he had a meeting with Ehud where Ehud gave him only NIS 10,000 and expressed exasperation with Yossi who asked for help to cover his millions in debts, supported the state’s main witness Shmuel Duchner.

Duchner, before his death on March 2, testified that he had given Yossi NIS 500,000 by request of Ehud, as a bribe for his cooperation in smoothing over legal and zoning problems with the Holyland real estate project in south Jerusalem.

According to Rozen, Duchner’s earlier giving Yossi NIS 500,000 explains why Ehud would have been so exasperated with him and unwilling to give him more funds beyond NIS 10,000.

Rozen said that Ehud’s mere NIS 10,000 especially needed explanation such as Duchner’s story of having previously given Yossi significant funds, since Yossi protested about how close the two brothers were.

In response, Yossi said, “I did not come to help. I came to tell the truth and only the truth. I don’t know what would support the story of Mr. Duchner.”

Rozen’s assertion was surprising because everything Yossi has said until now, whether true or not, appeared to be trying to help Ehud, as he denied Duchner’s story of having received any money from him.

Ironically, Rozen was saying that if one believed Yossi partially, he was unintentionally helping the state.

It was noteworthy as a rare statement by the judge about the significance he is putting on any individual’s testimony and how he is viewing different pieces of evidence linking up with each other.

Yossi was testifying for the second straight day via video conference from Washington. He is afraid to return to Israel to face some of his creditors from the black market.

The Holyland trial involves Ehud and 15 other defendants in what has become known as one of the most infamous bribery and fraud cases in the country’s history.

Yossi’s testimony was expected to be a potential lift for the state in confirming aspects of Duchner’s story, after the blow it received of losing Duchner as a witness when he died.

The judge’s questioning was at the culmination of a series of questions in which he got Yossi to admit that he would know who was the person behind any money he was getting, even if a middleman actually gave him the funds.

Rozen’s point appeared to be that if he chooses to believe Duchner over Yossi, that Duchner did give Yossi NIS 500,000, he can also believe Yossi against Ehud’s lawyer’s narrative.

Yossi would have known that Duchner was just a front-man for Ehud, instead of that Yossi got money from Duchner, but Ehud had nothing to do with it.

The state also made a case that Ehud and Yossi had spoken about the case and possibly planned to coordinate how they would respond to investigators.

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